Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Children Will Benefit from Yoga Training

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By Faye Martins

The discipline of yoga provides school children an opportunity to connect mind and body, increase self-awareness and encourage healthy living. In a study of 48 fifth graders with abnormal test anxiety, students were divided into a control and experimental group that received yoga instructions for 60 minutes in 15 different sessions. Stuck and Gloeckner, of Leipzig University in Germany, evaluated students before the study, after the study and three months following the study (Early Child Development and Care, 2005). They found that students in the experimental group had long-term results of emotional balance with decreased feelings of helplessness, fear and aggression. They transferred what they learned to situations outside of school to control their feelings of negativity and improve their sense of well-being.

Another study compared the before and after spatial and visual tests of three groups of children either attending a fine arts camp, yoga camp or in a control group. The yoga camp focused on breathing, posture exercises and meditation. Only the yoga group improved their spatial memory and right brain activity by 43%. In a similar study, children ages 9-13 years were divided into a control group and a yoga training group that had exercises in breathing, visual focusing, silence, posturing and games to increase memory and attention span. The yoga group had a 17% increase in ability to control their bodies and mind.

In a study by Kiselia, Baker, Thomas and Reedy (Journal of Counseling Psychology, 1994), stress management programs showed an improvement in self-esteem, concentration, academic performance, classroom behavior and emotional balance. It also decreased feelings of aggression, helplessness and behavioral problems. Yoga adds an internal locus of control, helps motivate students and gives them restful sleep. Students start listening to their own emotions leading to increased self-awareness that provides a buffer against the negative aspects of our culture that encourage unhealthy eating habits and poor body image.

Yoga is an effective discipline for students to learn from kindergarten to high school. It also assists children with learning behavior issues, cerebral palsy, autism and Down syndrome. Yoga practices can be adapted to physical education and after school programs in a safe and accepting environment. The emphasis is on the individual rather than competition among students. Calm, centered and focused students have better social skills, learning behaviors and are happier. There are many resources, including DVDs, articles, books and podcasts, available to parents and educators. 

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To find our how to become a certified yoga instructor or to see our selection of affordable yoga instructor training intensives, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.

If you are a teacher, yoga studio manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

About Yoga and ADHD

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By Faye Martins

Can Yoga improve symptoms of attention deficit disorder? For people who question the benefits of Yoga or the existence of ADHD, the question remains controversial. For those, who recognize the power of Yoga on the mind and body, though, it may be easier to fathom its cognitive and behavioral benefits, as well. Scientists agree that more study is needed, but early research indicates that Yoga can be helpful.

Effects of ADHD

Many of the negative characteristics associated with ADHD can become assets when properly channeled. Traits like creativity, thinking outside the box, and the ability to single-mindedly focus on a single topic for hours (if it interests them) can be a blessing or a curse, depending on environment and expectations.  

While its severity varies through the years, ADHD doesn’t usually go away. Grown-ups, although they have learned to compensate in many ways, still deal with many of ADHD’s symptoms. Anxiety, mood disorders, and lack of organizational skills can hurt careers and relationships well into adulthood.

The people with attention deficit disorders who are most successful are those who approach the diagnosis with an open mind. They know how they learn best, they recognize their strengths, and they structure their lives to accomplish their goals.  Many find that Yoga is a powerful ally on their journey through life.

What the Experts Say about Yoga and ADHD

·         In his book, “Scattered Minds,” physician and author Gabor Mate says people with ADHD beat themselves up over the frustration they experience daily. Mate suggests that Yoga exercises, meditation, and breathing build self-acceptance by relaxing the body and enabling the subconscious mind to re-program negative beliefs and self-talk.

·         Richard Brown, psychiatrist and professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, recommends Yogic breathing for people with ADHD. He says it alleviates anxiety and increases concentration, and it’s easy to do at any time and place.

·         Sleep problems are common in children with ADHD. Research from a 2004 edition of the “Journal of Attention Disorders” says that Yoga decreases hyperactivity and insomnia, but there was insufficient evidence at that time to show it could replace medical treatment.

·         In 2006, German researchers found that adding Yoga to a drug treatment greatly benefited children with ADHD. One of the study’s authors, Nicole Goldstein, M.D., says that forward bends work well because they “increase exhalation by lengthening and deepening the breath.”  She thinks this is “key in developing concentration.”

When we consider the fact that ADHD spills over into every other area of life, it makes more sense than ever that Yoga can be beneficial in improving quality of life for people with ADHD and the people around them.

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see find out more about yoga or see our selection of affordable yoga instructor training intensives, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.

If you are a teacher, yoga studio manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Yoga Lifestyle and Giving the Mind a Break

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By Bhavan Kumar

There is always an overzealous team mate or coworker that refuses to take breaks throughout the day. While they may feel extra-productive, their attention span is going to take a major plummet simultaneous with the body. Even the group that takes their regular breaks could be at risk for fatigue and lack of circulation for lack of know-how when it comes to restful pauses. The 'quick fix' attitude of the modern age has convinced us that a thirty minute sitcom with a microwave dinner is good enough use for our spurts of free time. This misconception has made the present practice of yoga all the more medicinal and restorative.

Alternative Breaks

One famous speculation from Dr. Shelly Gable integrates the mental and physical uses of yoga training. During a general review of the 'positive psychology' concept at the University of California (Santa Barbara 2005,) Gable and a colleague made definite claims for the potential of cognitive and emotional benefits. She accredited yoga as one of the top alternate self-improvement techniques, capable of optimizing breaks for an even more fulfilling moment of how the blend of exercise, meditation, and wellness to allow the individual to maximize his or her body's rejuvenation and functionality. 

Breaks Today

The waste (smoking) and grease oriented (fatty food) breaks still continue at the same frequency after the general review was released. A great deal of the population is so captivated by their daily lives that breaking routine is unsettling and oftentimes out of the question. These folks are harder to pull on board with the recently accepted evidence of rewards for healthy living. They will be more rigid when trying to ease into a pure form of holistic exercise with a strange new clarity of mind. The brutal truth is that the continuations of ‘work breaks’ will only bring the inactive, frozen food consuming, and anxiously disgruntled traditionalists closer to death. These tragic souls will never be able to enjoy a moment to pause from their work the right way.

Shelly is not the only researcher looking to help add years to these peoples' lives using energy management. In 2008, a Harvard graduate by the name of Stephen Covey offered his own input on the matter through his medium of text, "Principals of Balanced Self Renewal." He outlines seven rules for personal improvement and refreshment, the last of which is 'sharpening the saw' of positive traits. A pause in daily life to focus the mind and condition the body radically strengthens each aspect.

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see find out more about how to become a certified yoga instructor, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.

If you are a teacher, yoga studio manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste! 

Friday, April 05, 2013

Why Yoga Is Good for Our Feet

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By Kimaya Singh

No wonder we have aching feet. We take them for granted, stuff them in uncomfortable shoes, and expect them to carry us through the day without causing us pain.  Fortunately, Yoga teaches us to become aware of these delicate body parts.

One out of every four Americans has serious foot problems during their lifetime – a fact that becomes even more significant when we consider that our feet mirror the condition of our general health. There are 26 bones in the foot, and any one of these can cause trouble if it is misaligned.

How our Feet Affect Our Health

The muscles that support the function and structure of our feet are related to the bladder and the adrenal glands. When these muscles don’t work properly, abnormalities like shin splints and plantar fasciitis can occur.

The bottom of the foot also has reflex points that correspond with glands, organs, and other parts of the body. When the bones in the foot are out of place, they create tender spots called trigger points. When they are properly aligned, walking stimulates the reflexes and keeps the feet healthy.

Misaligned bones also interfere with the acupuncture meridians, or energy channels, that run through the feet.  Because these meridians affect the liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach, gallbladder, and bladder, blockages can lead to health disorders. In Yoga, we call this energy “prana.” Chinese medicine calls it “chi.”

Finally, the foot has receptors that relay information from the central nervous system to the body. When these receivers don’t communicate properly, they send confusing messages that disturb our sense of balance and affect the way we move. A muscle gets the wrong signal and constricts, pulling other parts of the body out of place, or we aren’t able to “feel” the location of our feet or hands, making us more likely to injure ourselves.

How Yoga Helps Keep Feet Healthy

Yoga shows us how to ground our bodies and encourages proper alignment of our feet, making them stronger and more flexible. Specific poses that promote healthy feet include the following:

·       Standing Poses
·       Legs-Up-the Wall Pose
·       Downward Facing Dog Pose
·       Hero Pose
·       Cobbler Pose
·       Squat

These simple Yogic exercises strengthen and tone the toes:

·       Pointing and flexing the foot
·       Rolling a ball underneath the foot
·       Picking up marbles with the toes
·       Interlacing the fingers between toes
·       Rotating the ankle in a circular motion


Yoga exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles in the lower leg and foot can alleviate discomfort caused by existing problems and prevent new ones in the future. 

© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see find out more about yoga or to see our selection of distance learning yoga teacher training programs, please use the yoga resources on the right side of this page.
If you are a teacher, Yoga studio manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!

Friday, March 01, 2013

Can You Help Your Heart with Yoga?

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By Faye Martins

Can Yoga help in the fight against heart disease? The American Heart Association recommends at least two hours and thirty minutes of “moderate intensity aerobic physical activity” per week.  Unfortunately, traditional Yoga’s stretching, breathing, and meditation don’t meet those specifications, but that doesn’t mean Yoga can’t help.

According to M. Mala Cunningham, the counseling psychologist who founded Cardiac Yoga, the ancient healing art definitely improves physical, mental, and emotional health. Together with a healthy lifestyle, Cunningham thinks Yoga may actually help to reverse or prevent heart disease.  At the very least, it benefits cardiac function.

How Yoga Prevents Heart Disease

·       Prevention

We know that Yoga affects the nervous system in ways that benefit physical health. It strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure, and improves circulation. Studies show that people who continue the practice for at least three months receive long-term benefits. Cholesterol and insulin levels go down, muscles grow stronger, and people feel happier and healthier overall.

·       Reversal

Stress is a big factor in heart disease, but people who have heart problems also experience anxiety and depression related to chronic health conditions.  Both disorders are common and respond quickly to Yoga.  People also sleep better and have more energy, factors that make it easier to keep up healthier lifestyles, such as diet and connecting with friends.

The Scientific Evidence

·       Meditation and Heart Attacks

Small studies have shown that Transcendental Meditation, which was introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1960s, has the ability to reduce the risk of heart disease.  When tested by researchers at the Center for Natural Medicine and Prevention in Iowa and the Medical College of Wisconsin, patients in the group who practiced Yoga for several years had almost half the risk of heart attacks as the group who did not practice Yoga.

·       Electrocardiograms and Yoga

At the Indian Institute of Technology, in India, researchers compared electrocardiograms of 42 healthy Yoga practitioners with 42 healthy non-Yoga practitioners. Ages ranged from 18 to 48. They found that “autonomic parasympathetic vagal control,” was stronger in those who practiced Yoga training, a factor that leads to healthier hearts.

·       Atrial Fibrillation

Scientists at the University of Kansas Hospital studied a group of 49 patients with atrial fibrillation, or irregular heart beat. Subjects who practiced Yoga three times a week for three months reduced their episodes of irregular heart rhythm by approximately 50 percent. Yoga participants also had fewer problems with depression and anxiety.
Although it doesn’t treat the body in the same way that high impact aerobic exercise does, Yoga is definitely good for the heart. On top of that, it complements other exercises and reduces the risk of injuries.  
© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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