10 Health Benefits of Yoga - Interview with 007

CB loves being 007.
CB loves being 007. | Source

My love affair with yoga began in fall of 2000. As a personal trainer and fitness instructor at a four diamond hotel and spa, I longed to teach guests yoga. I avidly attended classes and yoga teacher training, and was soon teaching yoga overlooking sapphire sea, under the shade of coconut palms. In 2004, tourism to Hawaii plummeted, and my employers created an annual fitness spa membership that catered to locals. CB was our seventh local to join . . . she found her membership card which read "007" most amusing. The 63 year young Ms. 007 became firmly entwined in my yoga journey. 007 became my greatest yoga fan, a true friend, and the perfect example of what is achieved with tenacious optimism. Today at 72, she continues to make progress in strength, flexibility, weight loss and positivity.

Me: CB . . . how about an interveiw on your experience with the health benefits of yoga?

007: Sweetie . . . what a fabulous idea! Would love to give my opinion on my improved health and mental status.

Me: You have attended yoga classes for over seven years. Would you say this is one of the reasons for your continued good health?

007: Indeed . . . all the medical professionals in my life agree that yoga has done me a world of good.

Yoga is more than just exercise. Make yoga your passion and it will enhance your life. Both CB and I bloom with yoga's health benefits. CB, aka 007 has graciously agreed to chime in for the10 reasons why.

Keep your shoulders injury free with cow's head arms.
Keep your shoulders injury free with cow's head arms. | Source

1. Flexibility

A little stretching/yoga before your work-out prevents cramps and injuries. I've noticed most people - including myself - often neglect to stretch before lifting weights or running. I have my clients stretch both before and after they exercise.

Practicing yoga three times a week will keep your muscles flexible and long. The most common injury among bodybuilders is a torn rotator cuff. The chest and shoulder muscles get stronger, tighter and shorter from bench pressing huge amounts of weight, until something snaps. Cows head arms and eagle arms are two very simple yoga poses that prevent rotator cuff injury.

“Over-training in any one sport can cause repetitive stress and other more serious injuries. Yoga is a full-body workout that creates both strength and flexibility. You need to have both. "One without the other is a recipe for disaster,” says Baron Baptiste owner of Baptiste Yoga and former assistant coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.

007: The fact that we do an entire yoga program several times a week gives me a focus for the rest of my daily schedule. I feel energized and able to face the concerns that come with a busy life.

2. Balance

No yoga class is complete without a few balancing poses. Tree pose, dancer pose, and balancing half moon pose are just a few to increase your agility. One morning I ran down the stairs to get the ringing phone and tripped over the cat who was racing down the stairs between my legs - I was airborne over four stairs. I give credit to yoga for landing squarely on both feet. Focusing on balancing helps older adults become more vigilant about falls.

007: I can relate to this - my two cats often race me down the stairs. I have learned to hold the handrail and mindfully walk down carefully. The yoga gift of "mindfulness" applies in so many ways.

3. Heart Health

The sun salutation is a series of yoga poses that strengthen the heart. In Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Power yoga the sun salutation is repeated over and over to build heat in the body. Although there are many variations of the sun salutation, most contain forward fold, lunges, plank, cobra, and downward facing dog. These poses involve your bigger muscles and will have you sweating in no time.

007: Too true, but it is a "good" sweat. I love the routine that gets us warmed up and ready to face what the day might bring. "Heartwarming" in every sense of the word.

4. Muscle Strength

Squats, lunges and push-ups are weight bearing exercises that strengthen our muscles. Chair pose, warrior poses, and plank pose mimic the movements of squats, lunges and push-ups. When the poses are repeated over and over as is done in a yoga vinyasa or "thread", it has the same effect a weightlifter gets when he repeats sets.

007: I am definitely stronger in every way. Katherine and I design an annual program for me to work on strength, balance and flexibility. Thanks to this, each year sees my fitness improve.

5. Muscle Awareness

With a regular yoga practice you are continually aware of tight spots as you hold your poses. Most people are tighter on one side. Yoga is sanskrit for "to yoke together" and your aim is to balance your left and right side by holding poses for an equal number of breaths. If my body is feeling tight or out of alignment, it is brought to my attention as I go from pose to pose.

007: Keeping the body balanced and loose is better than ending up in a doctor's office hoping to get prescription meds.

6. Breathing

"The mind is king of the body, but the breath is king of the mind," says world renowned yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar. Your breath literally becomes your yoga and this is the feature that sets yoga apart from any other sport. Inhaling through my nose, I become aware of the air going into my body. Exhaling, I tighten my abdominal muscles drawing my belly button towards my spine. Inhaling, I imagine my breath supplying oxygen to all my muscles. Exhaling, I let go of the tension I feel one muscle at a time. For many more breaths I become aware of my tight spots. I like to start with my jaw and shoulders and move down. I believe deep yoga breathing detoxifies your entire system.

007: I have learned to use deep breathing whenever I need relief from stress or anxiety. Much cheaper and quicker than drugs or alcohol.


7. Stress Reduction

Patterned movement timed to breath requires focus. While the mind and body are moving together, stressful thoughts are put aside and tedious tasks are forgotten. In his book Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health, Iyenar writes "Yogic science believes that the regular practice of asanas or poses and pranayama or breath strengthens the nervous system and helps people face stressful situations positively."

007: So true and so much better than pills.



8. Antioxidants

Antioxidants are blood components that eat up free radicals. Free radicals age us and lead to heart disease, arthritis and cancer. A recent study shows that yoga increases antioxidants in the blood stream. Glutathione and antioxidant enzymes, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase were measured in the blood of two groups of police trainees aged 21-27. One group participated in a 5 month yoga program. The antioxidants in the blood of the yoga practitioners was significantly higher than that of the control group.

007: Because I have leukemia, my physicians agree that yoga helps my body to fight this cancer- for which I remain grateful.



Our yoga studio.
Our yoga studio. | Source

9. Meditation

At the end of every yoga session is corpse pose or savasana. Lying on your back, your goal is to completely relax the body. More difficult is to relax the mind by letting go of chaotic thoughts drifting through your head, but thought control is a valuable skill. Not only does meditation teach relaxation techniques, but research shows it has a physical effect on certain mental processes. A 2011 psychiatry/neuroimaging journal documents a study showing how meditation causes positive changes in gray matter concentration in the brain. Areas of the brain effected were learning and memory, emotion control, self identity, and perspective taking.

007: My favorite pose! at the end of an hour of breathing and poses, this total relaxation pose is the icing on the cake. I keep threatening to spend the whole hour in this pose.



10. Social Niche

Yoga is a social niche with a worldwide network. 007 and I have spent many enjoyable hours practicing yoga seaside. Trade winds fan us, as we move with our breath under the palm trees. We meet world travelers, who value yoga's many health benefits as much as we do. What a joy to hear of their unique yoga experience.

007: So true, Katherine and I are the one constant in an ever changing group of health minded visitors to Oahu.

Special thanks to 007 aka CB. CB, a retired librarian, is a reservoir of the extraordinary facts and data she has collected throughout her 70 years. She is a treasure.

Resources

1. "10 Best Poses for Men" Men's Health Magazine by Paige Greenfield http://www.menshealth.com/yoga/basics/10_best_poses_for_men.php#ixzz1nQVNfPeM

2. Yoga: The Pathway to Holistic Health by B.K.S. Iyengar 2001 Dorsling Kinderly Great Britain

3. "Cancer Treatment: Role of Yoga, Naturopathy and Prayer" by Manju Sengar, Manisha Bhutani, Dhiraj Aggarwal and Vinod Kochupillaby Manju Sengar, Manisha Bhutani, Dhiraj Aggarwal and Vinod Kochupilla Health Administrator Vol: XVII, Number 1: 151- 157,pg.i http://medind.nic.in/haa/t05/i1/haat05i1p151.pdf

4. "Mindfulness Practice Leads to Increases in Regional Brain Gray Matter Density" Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging Volume 191, Issue 1 , Pages 36-43, 30 January 2011 by Britta K. Hölzel, James Carmody, Mark Vangel, Christina Congleton, Sita M. Yerramsetti, Tim Gard, Sara W. Lazar http://www.psyn-journal.com/article/S0925-4927(10)00288-X/abstract

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Comments 20 comments

hush4444 profile image

hush4444 4 years ago from Hawaii

Great job - I enjoyed the format with the interview included. 007 sounds like a wonderful and brave woman. The two of you make me want to get off the computer and do the chld's pose, my favorite.


rosika profile image

rosika 4 years ago

i like this hub..i have started doing yoga just since last month, i am feeling good already. your example of 70 year old woman is quite inspiring! voted up!


nextstopjupiter profile image

nextstopjupiter 4 years ago from here, there and everywhere

I started practicing yoga three years ago, at the age of 55, and it helped me a lot to improve my health. Thanks for this hub!


ladeda profile image

ladeda 4 years ago

Thanks for this Hub. I absolutely love doing yoga, good for the mind, body and soul! Voted up!


YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 4 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Thanks for visiting my hub hush4444, rosika, nextstopjupiter, ladeda. Yoga truly is an awesome life changing practice.


MJ 4 years ago

How very fortunate for CB and Katherine to practice yoga in paradise....K lovingly shares her passion & CB continues to practice yoga and improve her health.

I would love to join K and CB and be a member of the fitness spa!


deepthiganesh 4 years ago

Really interesting to read! Thank you very much for writing great health benefits of yoga. I believe that yoga can keep youthfulness and improve self confidence in our life.


YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 4 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Deepthiganesh, Thanks for reading and commenting. You are right about self confidence . . . my practice has certainly strengthened mine. And as for youthfulness - CB is the perfect example.


jaswinder64 profile image

jaswinder64 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada.

Your Hub, 10 Health Benefits of Yoga, is very informative.I like it, because I am doing Yoga since 1999. I got so many benefits from it. So wonderful knowledge for people, who want to start yoga.


YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 4 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Jaswinder64,you sound as passionate as I am about Yoga. A regular yoga practice enhances every aspect of your life. Thanks for reading and commenting.


stessily 4 years ago

YogaKat, Your presentation moved me through a mental yoga session, which I do when I am in a potentially stressful situation or when my day seems to be precluding a yoga session.

Your yoga studio is perfect. To be surrounded by such beauty while doing the poses is a dream come true. Add to that the presence of breezes and ocean, and I would feel heavenly.

Cow's head pose is an amazing stress reliever, to say nothing of its internal and external benefits.

007 is an inspiration, and she's so blessed to have a dedicated, talented teacher in you.

Well done; all the votes, as usual.

Kind regards, Stessily


YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 4 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Thanks Stessily for your insightful comments. It's great to get feedback from an inspirational poet and writer. Namaste.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

I love yoga! I try to do some yoga 2-3 times a week--it helps singing and it helps with my arthritic hip!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

This is wonderful information. I've been looking more into Yoga, and now I'm convinced of its benefits. Well done! I may just have to try it!


NMLady profile image

NMLady 4 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

I am totally devoted to my yoga classes. Yoga is as beneficial as you say. My damaged back functions very well thanks to my yoga devotion!


anupma profile image

anupma 4 years ago from India

I do attend my yoga classes regularly. I found it best to maintain myself physically and mentally. It balances both in a good way.

No doubt yoga is very good for physical and mental health, but wrong performance of yoga can be very harmful. So it must be performed under some trained teacher.

Very informative hub.


YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 4 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Thanks for visiting AudreyHowitt, Victoria Lynn, NMLady, and Anupuna . . . it only makes sense that yoga would help with singing, arthritis, a damaged back and mental health. Even more health benefits:) Thanks for sharing your experiences.


Jynzly profile image

Jynzly 4 years ago from Marion, Indiana, USA

Very informative and encouraging. I used to practice Yoga for a little while ten years back; now I will consider doing it again. Thanks for sharing.


YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 4 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Jynzly . . . thanks for visiting and commenting.


isenhower33 profile image

isenhower33 4 years ago from Crothersville, IN

I have yet to try Yoga, even though it is part of my P90X I believe, I usually just skip that disc but I might have to give it a try :)

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