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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday Wellness - Yoga

Until recently, my knowledge of yoga was limited to recollections of 1970s public television, and knowing that my maternal grandmother stood on her head for 10 minutes every morning - well into her 80s.  I didn't realize she did yoga to counter arthritis, but DO recall she bowled and played darts long after others her age were in nursing homes.

Fast forward a few years.  After 18 months of treatment, tests and procedures for back pain and sciatica, my physician suggested yoga.  So I went to my first class, and was blown out of the water.  You have to be strong to hold those positions! 
Over the course of 8 weeks, we've had several instructors - each with a little different focus.  Its been enlightening.  There is yoga for kids (complete with animal sounds), yoga for core strengthening, yoga for bigger bodies, and restorative yoga for seniors.  It improves your strength, flexibility and balance - which is exactly what I (and many other people who sit at a desk all day) need. 
My Sweetie has joined me in taking Yoga Basics.  We quickly noticed he was the only male student.  But our instructor shared some history.  Yoga was developed for and by men.  Monks used it to quiet the body so they could meditate.  Modern co-ed classes, however, have been discouraging to many men because women have greater flexibility.  Our instructor offered a men-only class at one time - with good attendance, but the women objected and prevailed.  Once the class was open to all, the men started dropping out again.  How unfortunate that this highly effective form of treatment/exercise is known to very few men.  
Another barrier to yoga catching on is its roots in Eastern religion.  A local health club refuses to teach yoga for this reason.  As recently as 2005 the Vatican spoke out against yoga.  Western interest in yoga peaked in the 1980s, when  Dr. Dean Ornish "connected yoga to heart health, legitimizing yoga as a purely physical system of health exercises outside of counter culture or esotericism circles, and unconnected to a religious denomination."  Thank you, Dr. Ornesh.  I hope that clears things up!
I'm so grateful my physician recommended yoga.  It provides physical and mental benefits you can't put in a pill.  If your back hurts all the time, talk to your doctor.  There may be a yoga class for you!  :)


Sharyn Mallow Woerz said...

Good for you! At 55, on a whim I took a yoga class. It changed my life in so many ways...and I'm certainly physically a lot stronger than I was at 35...I can now RUN ;) don't know when I could last do that...
Be well, live long, Namaste

jenclair said...

I started taking yoga at 58, went on to take training (200 hrs) to become a yoga teacher, and am registered with Yoga Alliance (although I'm not teaching at the moment. At 62, I think yoga is terrific and do my morning sadhana (almost) every day.

I feel rewarded with each practice!

To echo Sharyn, Namaste

Anonymous said...

I've read over and over that yoga is good for MS. A man named Eric Small is now in his 70s and teaches yoga in So. California. He and his children credit his continuing health to yoga. Small wrote a book called Yoga and Multiple Sclerosis.

Another woman on Patients Like Me gave me at least a dozen ways that yoga has helped her.

After my big move, I want to take a class. I met a yoga instructor in Evansville who also teaches at a yoga co-operative in Madison. The fellow MS-er recommended Hatha yoga, and I've read that's a good way to start. A class would help me know whether I'm doing the basic poses that I've tried correctly.

There's some overlap in symptoms between MS and your condition. I can definitely see how it could be a big help. Kudos to your man for joining you! He's a keeper...and the yoga will undoubtedly help him, too!