Yoga continues gaining popularity in the United States as both an art form, a relaxation technique and a therapeutic practice.
High Plains Fitness Center Coordinator, Amber Kavehkar teaches yoga classes both for credit and for fun. Students can attend Kavehkar’s flow yoga classes every Monday from noon to 1, free to fitness center members.
Students with schedule conflicts can learn the art of yoga using online tutorials, such as CNN’s recent article for yoga novices. It discusses basic poses, such as deep breathing techniques, downward facing dog, and different poses from the warrior series, along with pictures and step-by-step instructions.
Amber emphasizes the same poses in her yoga classes as discussed in the CNN article. Downward dog, for example, is a foundation pose reviewed in class and online.
However, yoga is far more than an exercise class. Recent studies prove its benefits for the inner body as well.
According to the National Institutes of Health: “The asanas and pranayama harmonize the physiological system and initiate a ‘relaxation response’ in the neuroendocrine system. This consists of decreased metabolism, quieter breathing, stable blood pressure, reduced muscle tension, lower heart rate, and slow brain wave pattern.”
Furthermore, a study published in the fall 2014 issue of Physical Educator shows correlation between yoga and decreased blood pressure in healthy college students. The study assessed fifty-six Chicago State University students at the beginning and end of their sixteen-week semester and found a moderate statistical significance in lowered systolic blood pressure (SBP) among the yogis as compared to the control group.
Another study published in October 2015 in the Journal of Health Research & Reviews focused on Indian information technology specialists due to the stressful nature of the occupation. The study concluded that cyclic meditation (a yoga-based practice) decreased job anxiety by 19.51 percent and perceived stress levels by 34.77 percent.
Not only does yoga improve daily well being and short term ailments, but it has therapeutic potential for sufferer chronic pain and illness sufferers.
An article in Psychology Today from May 2015 explains that yoga aids the building of gray matter through a process known as neurogenesis. It also strengthens white matter connectivity through a process known as neuroplasticity. Both processes are necessary to effectively treat chronic pain disorders.
Although yoga cannot cure chronic disorders on its own, it can help sufferers manage their issues.
Kavehkar advised curious students to, “Try a beginner’s class, or look online for beginners poses. You need to explore different teachers and different disciplines. You never know what you’ll like right away.”
Written by Joshua Speer
Photo from CNN