Yoga Teachers = Stress Management Specialists?

The above caption is not what I made up but came from Dr. Dean Ornish’s materials, i.e., a job, a position description – love it. Yoga teachers may put on different caps but one of which may be that – we help with preventing regular stress to morph into chronic stress. Everybody has stress and some aspects of stress is good – yes, it’s good. It allows us to harness more action, hopefully a positive version to achieve and be at peak performance BUT we know how chronic stress can give the nerves and the entire system the wear and tear … and if not managed well or us become more resilient, stress can chip away at our whole sense of well-being.

I really believe that we recognize the benefits of yoga when we practice it, repeatedly. In fact, in my evening classes, if I see someone yawn or give that deep delicious Hahhh sigh in the last 30% of the class, I feel I’ve succeeded in eliciting a relaxation response so vital to our overall health. Some student said he may fall asleep in savasana and I was like – yes! GOOD ! No, it’s not about being a sloth vs. athletic – Being chiseled and sculpted vs a lump of flab. It’s about calming down the over-active sympathetic nervous system to balance with the down regulated para-sympathetic nervous system for better rest and digestion – a complete wellness as there are many studies that show how our gut health and our brain health dictates our overall health. To strengthen our immune system and fight any inflammations and detox by eliminating toxins. As for Variable Heart Rate – We need not spike it up but have a bell curve up the heart rate but then … it has to come down, really down to slow down the heart rate – it’s a fluctuation like rhythmic flow and ebb waves. All this – It’s no longer a hippie woo woo stuff (and what’s wrong with that), but so much more.

Think about it: Heart disease and diabetes, which account for more deaths in the U.S. and worldwide than everything else combined,
are completely preventable by making comprehensive lifestyle changes. Without drugs or surgery.
– Dean Ornish MD

Yoga is shared to prevent awesome people in prime of their lives from departing from this life too early. It’s crazy to hear of someone in their 40’s, even 30’s expiring – from an unexpected heart disease. (Sleeping less, drinking tons of coffee, agitated and running miles on a treadmill sometimes “runs” counter to that health we all seek.) It’s too young – it’s preventable. Please take care. Here’s another study results to validate your REGULAR practice.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

was the first Asian-American mayor and a son of an immigrant who grew up in public housing in his childhood, graduating from UC Berkeley law school to pursue public service. He died of a heart attack this morning. I did not know him personally and whatever one’s political persuasion that is so divided today, I honor and respect his work in social justice balanced with economic growth. Whatever the criticisms, who would take up that job unless he wanted to make improvements – he cared. In this day and age, just having someone who is earnest and caring with well intention, be at our political helm…not someone who is crude and corrupt – his integrity in leadership was a blessing. He obviously had a lot of STRESS, and we all have a lot of stress if we are to live a meaningful life. Sometimes, we live so much in our head, just in our brains … yes, that is a command center but there is more … to our body, mind and spirit connection. Yoga invites you to discover that connections and then …gives us the technique to integrate, then balance out our nervous system for overall health, including better cardiovascular health. Heart attack is … a breakdown of your heart function. What causes it?

I know this blog is about YOGA but it’s also about just … LIFE and how to live more joyfully, fully in this given time, this lifetime. Also as a Yoga Therapist trainee, student, it is noted in my mind that had he practiced yoga – the right kind of yoga for his stage of life – regularly, he would have extended his life well over 65. I do really believe this.

Here’s a nice article from Harvard Medical that validates our practice. And as with any practice, we have to stick with it – do it regularly, repeatedly to really embody the intent and be in our body.

RIP Ed Lee …

Here’s another very good program to check into for your heart health. Dr. Dean Ornish’s kind of yoga you find in softer side of yoga. There’s no need to go extreme or intense – save that for your passions in life – exercise to pump up and increase the heart rate within the range deemed safe by your doctor and then … lower your heart rate and blood pressure for super detoxifying breathwork called PRANAYAMA. We all associate yoga with the physical Asana/poses – that’s the popular image. But Yoga is 8-fold, called 8 limbs of yoga – let’s practice all 8 to explore the possibilities for better health – It’s such a rich practice, it would be a shame to just stop at “asana” (physical poses) level when we can go beyond the physical: To go over …

YAMA
NIYAMA
ASANAS
PRANAYAMA
PRATYAHARA
DHARANA
DHYANA
SMADHI