Category Archives: yoga

Yoga and physical therapy as treatment for chronic lower back pain also improves sleep

Yoga and physical therapy (PT) are effective approaches to treating co-occurring sleep disturbance and back pain while reducing the need for medication, according to a new study from Boston Medical Center (BMC). Published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the research showed significant improvements in sleep quality lasting 52 weeks after 12 weeks of yoga classes or 1-on-1 PT, which suggests a long-term benefit of these non-pharmacologic approaches. In addition, participants with early improvements in pain after 6 weeks of treatment were three and a half times more likely to have improvements in sleep after the full, 12-week treatment, highlighting that pain and sleep are closely related.

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Previous research from BMC discovered that yoga and PT are similarly effective for lowering pain and improving physical function, reducing the need for pain medication. In this study, results for sleep improvements were compared over a 12-week intervention period and after 1 year of follow-up.The image is in the public domain.

Sleep disturbance and insomnia are common among people with chronic low back pain (cLBP). Previous research showed that 59% of people with cLBP experience poor sleep quality and 53% are diagnosed with insomnia disorder. Medication for both sleep and back pain can have serious side effects, and risk of opioid-related overdose and death increases with use of sleep medications. Continue reading

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What are Two Good Yoga Stretches for Cyclists?

Because the weather appears to be mellowing, I am guessing that a lot more folks will be getting out their bikes to ride ‘in the new season.’ Here are a couple of stretches that I recommend you do before and after your ride.

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One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

I ride my bicycle virtually every day here in Chicago. Last year I averaged just over 17 miles per day for all 365 days for a total of 6350 miles for the year.

As you can imagine in a four season city like Chicago, I am not always able to ride at all, so I end up with some longer rides to compensate.

As a senior citizen riding the bike every day can sometimes stiffen up my leg muscles. I have found two wonderful stretches that do a super job of rejuvenating my legs on long rides. I usually do them after about ten miles so the muscles are warmed up. Every time I do them, I can always feel the energy flow back into my legs when I finish.

I have pictures of each stretch, but I want to explain how I do them as that makes the difference…

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Yoga breathing exercises can sharpen your mind – Study

Breath-focused meditation and yogic breathing practices have numerous known cognitive benefits, including increased ability to focus, decreased mind wandering, improved arousal levels, more positive emotions, decreased emotional reactivity, along with many others. To date, however, no direct neurophysiological link between respiration and cognition has been suggested.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

The research shows for the first time that breathing – a key element of meditation and mindfulness practices – directly affects the levels of a natural chemical messenger in the brain called noradrenaline. This chemical messenger is released when we are challenged, curious, exercised, focused or emotionally aroused, and, if produced at the right levels, helps the brain grow new connections, like a brain fertilizer. The way we breathe, in other words, directly affects the chemistry of our brains in a way that can enhance our attention and improve our brain health.

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Breath control helps quell errant stress response – Harvard

A hundred years ago, it seems, I dated a woman who taught yoga. While we were dating I did yoga every day. After we parted, I still practiced daily yoga for some years. While I still do yoga from time to time, one aspect I have carried into my daily life is breath control. I can honestly say that I use it to calm myself at some point every day of my life. I also employ it at night when I finally crawl under the covers. I am quick to sleep. Herewith Harvard Medical School on relaxation techiques.

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The term “fight or flight” is also known as the stress response. It’s what the body does as it prepares to confront or avoid danger. When appropriately invoked, the stress response helps us rise to many challenges. But trouble starts when this response is constantly provoked by less momentous, day-to-day events, such as money woes, traffic jams, job worries, or relationship problems.

Health problems are one result. A prime example is high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. The stress response also suppresses the immune system, increasing susceptibility to colds and other illnesses. Moreover, the buildup of stress can contribute to anxiety and depression. We can’t avoid all sources of stress in our lives, nor would we want to. But we can develop healthier ways of responding to them. One way is to invoke the relaxation response, through a technique first developed in the 1970s at Harvard Medical School by cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson. The relaxation response is a state of profound rest that can be elicited in many ways, including meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation.

Breath focus is a common feature of several techniques that evoke the relaxation response. The first step is learning to breathe deeply.

Deep breathing benefits Continue reading

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Fitness fun …

I am expanding the scope of these ‘funnies’ somewhat today as I found some awesome GIFs that I thought you would enjoy. Also, I confess, I love the animal ones. What is it with cats and dogs and yoga?

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Some amazing boarding …

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Tony

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Physical benefits of yoga – Harvard

I am a great believer in the benefits of yoga, both physical and mental. You can search yoga in the tags at the right for any of my posts on the subject. Here are two I consider worth seeing: Why should I do yoga? and Are there immediate physical benefits to yoga?

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Sorry, I couldn’t resist rerunning this charming little piece of art.

Here is what Harvard Medical School has to say on the subject: Yoga promotes physical health in multiple ways. Some of them derive from better stress management. Others come more directly from the physical movements and postures in yoga, which help promote flexibility and reduce joint pain.

Following are some of the physical benefits of yoga that have a growing body of research behind them. In addition to the conditions listed below, preliminary research also shows that yoga may help with migraines, osteoporosis, balance and mobility issues, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, fibromyalgia, and ADHD.

Back pain relief

Back pain is one of the most common health problems in the United States. Four out of five Americans will suffer from it at some point. But yoga appears to help. A 2013 meta-analysis of 10 randomized controlled trials found “strong evidence for short-term effectiveness and moderate evidence for long-term effectiveness of yoga for chronic low-back pain.” In fact, since 2007, the American Society of Pain guidelines have urged physicians to consider recommending yoga to patients with long-term pain in the lower back.

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Sore back? Try yoga

I have written about yoga a number of times here. About a month ago I posted on a yoga study – yoga and back pain.

For the record, I dated a yoga teacher some years ago and practiced it religiously for the two years we were together and for several years afterward. So I am very familiar with its practice and results. I have certainly used the relaxation techniques available from yoga breathing virtually every day of my life.

I recently had some problems with my lower back. It was stiff and painful. It also felt like I was aggravating it riding the bike. So I went to the doctor. Upon examination, she told me that at my age, 77, I may have lost some of my flexibility, particularly in my spine. She recommended doing some yoga to see if it gave me relief.

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First, some back pain facts.

WebMD says, “Back pain includes lower back pain, middle back pain, upper back pain or low back pain with sciatica. Nerve and muscular problems, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis can result in back pain.”

More than three million cases per  year are reported in the U.S. alone. Continue reading

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Yoga helps low back pain – Study

I was lucky enough to encounter yoga over 30 years ago. While I still practice it for flexibility and strength training, I think the greatest benefit I got from it was the ability to relax myself through deep breathing.Over the course of their lives, about 80 percent of Americans will suffer from back pain at one time or another. A recent study found that more than a third of adults say that low back pain has affected their ability to perform the tasks of daily living, exercise, or sleep. Treating this pain remains a difficult problem, and for millions of people the pain is chronic.

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Now, a new study by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) has concluded that yoga may be helpful for low back pain. The study appeared earlier this month in the online journal Cochrane Library.

“We found that the practice of yoga was linked to pain relief and improvement in function,” said the study’s lead author, L. Susan Wieland, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Family & Community Medicine at UM SOM, and Coordinator of the Cochrane Complementary Medicine Field at the Center for Integrative Medicine at UM SOM – an NIH grant-funded project that performs systematic reviews of various integrative medicine topics. “For some patients suffering from chronic non-specific low back pain, yoga may be worth considering as a form of treatment.”

Wieland and her co-authors reviewed 12 separate studies looking at yoga for low back pain. The trials, which included more than 1,000 participants, compared yoga to a non-exercise intervention, such as educational material given to a patient, or to an exercise intervention such as physical therapy. The researchers found that there was low to moderate certainty evidence that at three and six months, patients using yoga had small to moderate improvements in back-related function, as well as small improvements in pain.

Yoga performed about the same as non-yoga exercise in terms of improving back function at three and six months, although the researchers found few studies comparing yoga to other exercise and therefore considered the evidence to be very low certainty.

Yoga is a physical and spiritual practice that originated more than 2,000 years ago in India. Over the past several decades, it has become increasingly popular in the U.S. and other western countries. It typically involves a combination of physical movements, controlled breathing, and relaxation or meditation.

Most of the trials used Iyengar, Hatha, or Viniyoga forms of the practice. Because all study participants knew whether or not they were practicing yoga, and their reporting of changes in pain and functioning could have been affected by this knowledge, the study outcomes could only be graded with “moderate” certainty at best. The study also found that patients using yoga had more adverse effects than patients who did not use exercise, but had similar rates of adverse effects as patients who used non-yoga exercise. The adverse effects were mostly increases in back pain. Yoga was not associated with serious side effects.

The research team also included scientists from the University of Portsmouth in the UK and the University Hospital of Cologne in Germany.

Here are some further posts I have done on yoga;

Why should I do yoga?

Are there immediate benefits to doing yoga?

Yoga stretches for cyclists

If you want to read more type Y O G A into the search box at the right.

Tony

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Pilates or Yoga? – Infographic

I dated a yoga teacher and practiced it for years. I think learning the breathing techniques alone are worth it. I am pretty ignorant about Pilates. I took one class, but had a bad teacher, so never went back. I do know that a lot of people I respect practice it. A trainer told me that if you want a longer, leaner line, go with Pilates; if you want to condition your mind and body, do yoga.

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Tony

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5 Yoga poses you can do anywhere – Infographic

I am not much of a health club person. They just make me feel like I am in prison, breathing stale air with a bunch of other inmates. One of the things I love about yoga is that you don’t have to go any place special to do it and it works wonderfully in the great outdoors or your living room floor.

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To read more on yoga, check out these posts:

Why should I do yoga?

8 Benefits of yoga – Infographic

What are two good yoga stretches for cyclists?

Yoga for arthritis; yoga for seniors

Are there immediate benefits to doing yoga?

Tony

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What is a Yoga Trick for Getting to Sleep Quickly?

Regular readers know that I started doing yoga more than 30 years ago while in my 30’s. I did it religiously for the first couple of years, then slacked off some. But, I never stopped doing yoga. I use yoga techniques when I do stretches on bike riding breaks. The yoga breathing sends oxygen-rich blood to my leg muscles and refreshes them to extend the ride.

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I wrote previously about being in Las Vegas on a trip with my girlfriend and dealing with the huge portions of food being served. Another difficulty of being here is that your mind gets going gambling and then when you finally get to bed, your brain is still in high gear. Continue reading

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8 Benefits of Yoga – Infographic

I was fortunate enough to get involved with yoga about 30 years ago when I was dating a woman who also taught yoga. I practiced religiously for years after she and I had gone our separate ways. To this day, I am grateful for learning how to still my body and reduce my stress by the simple practice of controlling my breathing. As you can see from the infographic below there are profound benefits to doing yoga. There is also a good section on myth-information about yoga.

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To read further posts on yoga, check out:
Why Should I Do Yoga?
New Study Shows that Yoga and Meditation May Help Train the Brain
Body Strengthening Yoga Poses – Infographic
How can yoga benefit your brain?
Why is Yoga Good for You?
Yoga for Arthritis; Yoga for Seniors

Tony

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4 Stretches to do if you Sit at a Desk – Infographic

Regular readers know that I have written about the dangers of prolonged sitting. Check out:

Sitting Too Much is Killing Us – New York Times
How Sitting Too Long Affects Your Body – Infographic
Sitting is the New Smoking
7 Areas of the Body Affected by Sitting too Long – Infographic
Sitting Is Killing You – Infographic
Exercising More, Sitting Less Reduces Heart Failure Risk in Men
Too Much Sitting can be Hazardous to Your Health and Longevity
The Sitting and Rising Test Gives Clues to How Long You Might Live

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Tony

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10 Weight Loss Tips

Sometimes seeing a simple list can clarify a situation.

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If you consider yourself one of the 60 per cent of us who are overweight, you might enjoy this:

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Tony

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New Study Shows that Yoga and Meditation May Help Train the Brain

The participants with yoga or meditation experience were twice as likely to complete the brain-computer interface task by the end of 30 trials and learned three times faster than their counterparts for the left-right cursor movement experiments.

Please check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain for more on this subject.

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

New research by biomedical engineers at the University of Minnesota shows that people who practice yoga and meditation long term can learn to control a computer with their minds faster and better than people with little or no yoga or meditation experience. The research could have major implications for treatments of people who are paralyzed or have neurodegenerative diseases.

The research is published online in TECHNOLOGY, a new scientific journal featuring cutting-edge new technologies in emerging fields of science and engineering.

In the study, researchers involved a total of 36 participants. One group of 12 had at least one year of experience in yoga or meditation at least two times per week for one hour. The second group included 24 healthy participants who had little or no yoga or meditation experience. Both groups were new to systems using the brain to control a computer. Both groups participated in three, two-hour…

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How can yoga benefit your brain?

To summarize all this information, and most importantly, to make you think about the benefits you are already experiencing from yoga, I have summarized some examples. Or, for those who have not yet experienced the benefits of yoga you might consider the realm of possibilities that activate your mind, body, and brain!

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Regular readers know that I feel strongly about the health of the brain. Please check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits).

Tony

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