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Yoga Can Benefit Chiropractic Patients
By Drs. Neal Barry and Nicole Barry

Photo by Jaimi KercherAccording to 2005 and 2003 studies by Yoga Journal, 16.5 million Americans practice yoga and at least 12% of the population is very or extremely interested in it. Why are so many drawn to this ancient practice?

With a variety of styles and poses, yoga can fit into many different lifestyles and address a variety of health and fitness needs. According to a 2005 study by the American Council on Exercise, the physical benefits of yoga, such as increased flexibility, strength, endurance and balance, make yoga a terrific option for athletes to complement the often-repetitive motions of training.1 These same benefits are valuable to less-active people looking for a way to add more movement to their days.

By bringing attention to the present moment and working to limit the activity of the mind, yoga provides a way to naturally lower blood pressure and handle stress. For patients dealing with personal crises or body image issues, it can reduce anxiety and help develop more accurate self-awareness.

Regular yoga practice also helps to bring awareness to our negative thoughts, unrealistic expectations, and unnecessary fears. By freeing the mind of these unproductive patterns, the students make space for new information and positive thoughts. Through yoga practice, they learn self-acceptance and nurturing, implement healthy lifestyle changes, and strengthen their abilities. These healthful changes are then carried over into the home, workplace and community. Through awareness, effort and desire to change, the yoga practice helps transform perception, mold positive habits, induce stress-reduction and, over time, improve health and control of the mind.

In addition, yoga emphasizes a wellness approach by promoting regular exercise and simple, unprocessed foods that change with the seasons. Its focus on deep breathing helps to calm the nerves, relieve anxiety, oxygenate body tissues, as well as strengthen and expand the lungs and diaphragm. By involving the energy level, yoga's approach to health is also very similar to Chinese medicine. Yoga sees prana, or energy, moving through the nadis (energy channels), just as Chinese Medicine sees chi moving through the meridians.2

A Complement to Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic aims to enhance neurological function by improving the functional relationships of the spine and related structures. Once functional relationships (subluxations) are improved, yoga helps to strengthen the supporting muscles through a series of poses (called "asanas"), designed to improve posture and strength. One example of a strength-building asana is Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog. Folding poses such as Uttanasana not only calm the central nervous system, but also allow the lumbar, thoracic and cervical areas of the spine to stretch and decompress. Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) further increases the range of motion by moving the spine in the opposite direction. For those slouching at a workstation all day, Garudasana, or Eagle, helps open the cervical spine and shoulders, while Reverse Namaste draws the arms behind the back to open the chest.

The poses also help align the mind, body and spirit as students learn to limit the impact of overwhelming thoughts. A flowing approach from asana to asana helps find rhythm and detach from these thoughts.

References:

  1. DoesYoga Really Do the Body Good?
    (acefitness.org, PDF file)
  2. Does Chiropractic Have Its Roots in Yoga?
    (chiroweb.com)

In This Issue
Yoga Can Benefit Chiropractic Patients
Holiday Survival
Celery Salad with Apples, Walnuts and Mustard Vinaigrette

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