Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized

Yoga for Mental Health

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It is a well known fact that exercise is beneficial for stress relief, anxiety and  depression, but yoga is one of the best. Yoga combines strength and flexibility exercises with meditation and relaxation…a winning combination if you’re fighting depression or anxiety.

5 Reasons to use Yoga for Mental Health

  1. Yoga slows down breathing and heart rates, which lowers blood pressure
  2. It has been proven that yoga helps to boost GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which slows down brain activity, enabling you to relax. A one-hour session can increase GABA by 27% .
  3. Research indicates that regular use of yoga can lead to improved mood, reduced anxiety and anger reduction in people suffering from depression .  One study found that one 12 minute yoga session daily, for 8 weeks, can reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a known risk factor for depression .
  4. Yoga raises the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This is a type of protein that stimulates the development of new brain cells.
  5. Yoga can improve memory and concentration. Doing just one 20 minute Hatha yoga session was shown to improve memory better than any other form of exercise.

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Yoga, as Good For Back Pain as Physical Therapy

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Yoga as Good for Back Pain as Physical Therapy

 

Chronic lower back pain is equally likely to improve with yoga classes as with physical therapy, according to a new study.

Twelve weeks of yoga lessened pain and improved function in people with low back pain as much as physical therapy sessions over the same period.

 

“Both yoga and physical therapy are excellent non-drug approaches for low back pain,” said lead author Dr. Robert Saper, of Boston Medical Center.

 

About 10 percent of U.S. adults experience low back pain, but not many are happy with the available treatments, Saper and colleagues write in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The American College of Physicians advised in February that most people with low back pain should try non-drug treatments like superficial heat or massage before reaching for medications.

 

Physical therapy is the most common non-drug treatment for low back pain prescribed by doctors, according to Saper and colleagues. Yoga is also backed by some guidelines and studies as a treatment option, but until now no research has compared the two.

 

For the new study, the researchers recruited 320 adults with chronic low back pain. The participants were racially diverse and tended to have low incomes.

 

The participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group took part in a 12-week yoga program designed for people with low back pain. Another took part in a physical therapy program over the same amount of time. People in the third group received a book with comprehensive information about low back pain and follow-up information every few weeks.

 

 

At the start of the study, participants reported – on average – moderate to severe functional impairment and pain. More than two-thirds were using pain medications.

 

To track participants function and pain during the study, the researchers surveyed them at six, 12, 26, 40 and 52 weeks using the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ).

 

Scores on the RMDQ measure for function declined – meaning function was improving – by 3.8 points over the 12 weeks in the yoga group, compared to 3.5 points in the physical therapy group. Participants who received education had an average RMDQ score decline of 2.5.

 

Statistically, participants ended up with similar functional improvements whether they underwent yoga, physical therapy or education.

 

More people in the yoga and physical therapy groups ended up with noticeable improvements in function, however.

 

People would feel a noticeable improvement with a four to five point drop on the RMDQ, write Dr. Douglas Chang, of the University of California, San Diego and Dr. Stefan Kertesz of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in an accompanying editorial.

 

They write that 48 percent of yoga participants and 37 percent of physical therapy participants reached that goal, compared to 23 percent of people who were in the education group.

 

For achieving noticeable differences in pain, physical therapy was again no better or worse than yoga. After 12 weeks, people in the yoga group were 21 percentage points less likely to used pain medications than those in the education group. That difference was 22 percentage points for physical therapy versus education.

 

 

The improvements among the people in yoga and physical therapy groups lasted throughout the year, the researchers found.

 

“If they remain the same after one year, it’s a good bet that their improvement will continue on,” Saper told Reuters Health.

 

One treatment method won’t help all or even most patients, wrote Chang and Kertesz in their editorial.

 

“Nevertheless, as Saper and colleagues have shown, yoga offers some persons tangible benefit without much risk,” they write. “In the end, however, it represents one tool among many.”

 

 

 

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Uncategorized

Yoga Reduces Major Depression

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Yoga Reduces Major Depression: Harvard Study

 

A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that yoga combined with coherent breathing instruction significantly reduced symptoms in people with major depressive disorder.

 

Major depressive disorder (MDD), which is also known simply as depression, is characterized by persistent depressed mood along with a loss of interest in daily activities, low energy, and pain without an obvious cause that interferes with daily activities and enjoyment of life. It is commonly treated with medication or psychotherapy (talk therapy), or a combination of the two.

 

In the study, adults 18 to 64 years of age with MDD participated in either three (high-dose intervention) or two (low-dose) yoga classes per week and practiced coherent breathing at five breaths per minute. Symptoms of depression were measured at the beginning and throughout the 12-week study.

 

Volunteers who took three yoga classes a week were more likely to achieve lower depression scores after 12 weeks than subjects who took two classes.

 

 

“The practical findings for this integrative health intervention is that it worked for participants who were both on and off antidepressant medications, and for those time-pressed, the two times per week dose also performed well,” says John Weeks, Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

 

The study was conducted by researchers from major institutions including Harvard School of Medicine and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

 

Other recent studies have found that yoga is beneficial for a number of health issues. A study by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine concluded that yoga may ease low back pain and improve ease of movement in patients.

 

Researchers from Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital found that people who practice deep relaxation techniques, including yoga and meditation, make 42 percent fewer trips to their doctors, and lab use dropped by 44 percent when compared to the year before training.

 

Yoga may also be a safe and effective way for people with arthritis to keep moving, according to a study from Johns Hopkins. A group of 75 volunteers with two common forms of arthritis, knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, were either put on a wait list or participated in twice-weekly yoga classes plus a weekly at-home session.

 

After eight weeks, those who were in the yoga group reported a 20 percent improvement in pain, mood, and the ability to perform daily activities when compared to the control group.

 

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Positive Effects of Meditation and Yoga in the Healthcare System

 

Positive effects of meditation and yoga shown throughout healthcare system

 

While the Western world took a considerable amount of time to discover yoga and meditation compared to the ancient Eastern world, its positive effects are beginning to show throughout the modern day healthcare system. In a recent study carried out by Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)’s Institute for Technology Assessment and the Benson-Henry Institute (BHI),meditation it was found that meditation and yoga has helped to reduce healthcare costs by as much as 43%. In the study, patients participated in a relaxation training program which significantly lowered stress-levels and anxiety while lowering blood pressure, heart rate and decreasing muscle tension. The patients were found to use much fewer health care services in the year following their participation in the relaxation program. Utilising both the data from the Harvard Relaxation Program and also data obtained from the Research Patient Data Registry (RPDR) of Partners HealthCare from between 2006 and 2014 shows a reduction in the need for additional healthcare services.

 

Considering anxiety and depression rate as the third biggest expenditure in American healthcare services, adopting almost cost-free services such as yoga and meditation could see huge pressure lifted off the health care system. This could include greater availability of services and more prompt delivery of those services and also see more funding available for research on other non stress-related diseases that require more attention. Prescribing medication such as anti-depressants only fixes the problem short term. Focusing on more long-term alternatives such as regular yoga or meditation should be the key to effectively helping a patient reach optimal vitality and assist in the recovery and treatment of disease. Unfortunately modern Western medicine is not yet focused on this and still relies almost solely on medication.

 

The link between body and mind

 

Going back to the Eastern World, many practitioners believe there is a very strong link between body and mind and the prevalence of many diseases. This belief has only in recent times spread into the Western World where before they have long believed that the mind is not interconnected to the body. In our modern day, fast paced lifestyles it becomes quite easy to forget about the importance of slowing down and taking time out for ourselves. Every day we find so many places we need to be, people we need to see, jobs we need to do and children we need to take care of. Couple this with emotional, financial and physical stress, it’s no wonder we have a hard time actually paying attention to what ourfresh air body is trying to tell us. It goes even deeper, in that we are also seeing a link between the mind and the immune system and our emotions and their effect on our body. These incredible findings have been made much more easier to prove thanks to development in technology, in particular in neuroimaging which measures specific brain function and molecular biology which reads various biological interactions between cells.

 

When you are stressed your body releases hormones that have a big impact on how your nervous system and internal organs function. Cortisol is the main hormone that affects your body’s function when placed under stress. It has been found to impair memory and function, increase weight and bring about multiple cardiovascular diseases. Your digestive system can also be directly affected by stress and it has been shown that nutrients are not as effectively absorbed when stressed. Irritable bowel syndrome and food allergies are also closely linked to stress. The brain communicates to your stomach via the vagus nerve.

 

When placed under continual stress your immune system begins to suffer which leaves you wide open to many illnesses. The body is unable to fight effectively against harmful bacteria and infections, resulting in inflammation which can occur at many levels. For this reason it is believed that many autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and osteoarthritis form in the body as a result of stress.

 

Adapting yoga and meditation into your schedule

 

Attending a yoga or meditation class even once a week can have a big impact on your overall health and wellness. A guided class will allow you to dedicate at least an hour to your practice without distraction. If you are unable to find the time to attend a class, there are many guided meditation and yoga sequences available on the internet. Finding a quiet place in the house and spending ten minutes a day at a scheduled time will help you develop the important habit of taking time out for yourself. You can then extend your practice to a longer period of time as the weeks go on.

 

The simple act of focusing on your breath will do wonders at reducing your stress levels and calming your mind. When you have a relaxed stress response system you will notice deeper breathing, a lowered heart rate and a positive change in your overall mood.

 

Hopefully in the future we will see the prevalence of many more yoga and meditation programs offered in place of prescription medication to treat a variety of mental illness and mind-body related disease.

 

Please share with family and loved ones.  Call us with your questions, healthcare concerns, and let us develop a personalized healthcare plan for you.

 

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