A Root Awakening #7: Harness the Power of Prevention

Did you know that in 2012 the Center for Disease Control reported about half of all adults (117 million people) had one or more chronic health conditions? Chronic conditions run the gamut from diabetes, arthritis and heart disease to asthma and high blood pressure. With all the upcoming changes in healthcare and the widespread increase in chronic conditions, taking steps towards preventative care is more important than ever. Most people don’t know what preventative care is or why it’s beneficial. Preventative health care is actively taking the steps to stop diseases before they develop.

How yoga therapy can be used as preventative medicine:

Tackle stress: Studies show that stress contributes to the cause of heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory conditions and other chronic disease. Yogic breathing and mindfulness practices are highly effective in managing and lowering stress. Their ability to stimulate the immune system and invoke relaxation work to lower blood pressure, reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisol, and increases blood flow to the intestines and vital organs. I put this to the test with my 94 year asthma patient. After practicing specific lung strengthening techniques consistently for several weeks, my patient reported that she had reduced her use of her inhalers by 70%, and that she was down from 3 different medications to 1 medication! Sweet relief!

Get up and active: A sedentary lifestyle (which is very common) is the main cause of chronic disease. Inactivity increases the risk of high blood pressure, type II diabetes, and may double the risk of heart disease, not to mention the aches and pains. Yikes! Developing strength and flexibility are essential for keeping your internal and external body in an optimal state. Adopting a physical yoga therapy practice will lengthen your muscles, loosen connective tissue that surrounds the joints to relieve tension, and build muscle mass or maintain muscle strength, which protects from conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and back pain.

Sleep tight: While stimulation is good, too much can be taxing on the nervous system. 30% of people suffer from insomnia and more than half of Americans lose sleep due to stress and anxiety. Sleep deprivation is linked to a weakened immune system, lowered brain function, kidney disease, poor emotional well-being and plays a role in increased chronic pain symptoms. Thankfully, yoga therapy provides relief from excess stimulation and the “on-the-go” nature of modern life. After struggling with an interrupted sleep pattern because of the constant “to-do” list that plagued my mind, I began using restorative postures and Yoga Nidra (aka: yoga sleep meditation) to promote sleep. This gave my nervous system a chance to whine down before drifting off to dreamland. In doing so, my body was able to release tension and truly relax. Now, I sleep soundly only waking to the sound of my alarm.

It’s an exciting time as we are finally understanding that what we believe about our health and our bodies are key points for healing. Yoga therapy as preventative care opens the door for us to be less dependent on doctors exclusively for our well- being, instilling hope and the opportunity to regain control of their health.