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For the Improvement of Respiratory Function
The breath plays an essential role in all Yoga techniques and exercises. Investigations have revealed that most people breathe too shallow, without using the full potential of the lungs. Due to this, the body is inadequately supplied with oxygen. Metabolic function is reduced and as a result, physical wellbeing is considerably impaired.
Through specific physical exercises, relaxation and breathing techniques, the breathing process becomes more conscious and deepens in a natural way. With regular practice, we gradually learn to eliminate poor breathing habits and replace them with deep, relaxed breathing. Apart from the benefits to physical and mental health, there is also a clear improvement in the body's immune system and vitality.
Our breathing process not only has an influence on our physical wellbeing, but also on our emotional and mental harmony. Stress and anxiety cause us to breathe rapid and shallow. When we are relaxed, the breath is slow and deep. In stressful situations, we have the possibility of regaining our inner balance through conscious, deep breathing. We can learn to respond to the pressures of everyday and professional life with more composure. In this way we can have a positive influence on our physical and mental wellbeing.
The exercise series of “Yoga in Daily Life” assists everyone in achieving healthy breathing and those with respiratory disorders such as Asthma or Chronic Bronchitis also find immense relief with the aid of these practices.
The psychic component of Asthma plays an especially large role in this disorder. Relaxation and breath exercises, together with changes in lifestyle, can achieve a cure of this disorder, or at least greatly improve respiratory function.
An important objective of the Yoga exercises and disciplines is to eliminate the risk factors that form the basis of cardiovascular disease. Poor diet, stress and lack of adequate exercise are typical factors involved in this disease. Regular practice of the systematically designed Yoga exercises greatly improves cardiac function by stimulating circulation and toning the entire vascular system. Specific breath exercises enhance absorption of oxygen and promote elimination of carbon dioxide and other impurities from the body. Gradually the body’s natural state of balance returns as oxygen supply is re-established. The relaxation techniques allows both profound physical and mental relaxation to take place.
Functional disorders of the cardiovascular system have become a widespread problem and statistical evidence points to an ever increasing tendency towards cardiac and vascular disease worldwide. This is why in the system of “Yoga in Daily Life” the physical, breathing and relaxation exercises have been adapted to accommodate this problem.
Professor Jarmila Motajova, MD from the University of Bratislava, worked for five years within the framework of a scientific study on the application of Yoga Exercises in the rehabilitation of heart conditions. A group of patients practiced specific exercises from the system of “Yoga in Daily Life”. This group was closely monitored and examined regularly. The results of the technical data (e.g. pulse rates, blood pressure and other functional parameters), fully confirmed the success of the Yoga Exercises in strengthening the health of the heart.
It has been found that many people suffer rheumatic changes to the bones, joints and muscles due to lifestyle factors, such as overeating, high consumption of animal protein and fat, lack of physical exercise and poor posture. All these factors lead to degenerative and inflammatory changes of the muscles and joints, resulting in joint stiffness and the experience of strong pain.
Yoga exercises not only serve as a helpful therapy in relieving existing pain, but also act in the prevention of stiffness of the spine and rheumatic changes of the joints. The physical exercises stretch and relax shortened muscles and strengthen weak muscles. This provides a corresponding stability and support for the joints. Yoga exercises use the full range of movement of the joints, as far as possible without pain. This greatly improves joint mobility and enhances blood circulation to the joint capsule. The body thereby gradually regains a healthy flexibility, in a natural way.
The body’s metabolism is stimulated by special breath exercises that balance and harmonise the Autonomic Nervous System, thereby encouraging relaxation and physical wellbeing.
The effectiveness of Yoga Exercise was validated in an important investigation at the world famous health resort of Piestany in Slovakia. A team of medical specialists, consisting of three Doctors, a Psychologist and a Yoga Instructor, examined the effect of the systematic practice of “Yoga in Daily Life” on patients suffering Rheumatoid Spondylitis.
Patients of one group, who practiced specific physical and breath exercises from the system of “Yoga in Daily Life” were compared with another group of patients who were treated with classical rehabilitation exercises and techniques. The outcome of this study revealed noticeable improvement in mobility and lung parameters, as well as substantial reduction of pain.
The success of the exercise series “Yoga in Daily Life” in relieving problems related to joint and spine mobility is primarily due to its holistic effects. The far-reaching benefits of these exercises not only impart a physical improvement, but also induce mental calm as a result of the relaxation techniques. Practice of the relaxation exercises assists patients to respond more appropriately to stress and nervous tension, thus allowing them to better manage their professional and family responsibilities.
The system of “Yoga in Daily Life” has created the opportunity for western people to experience Yoga in its original and purest form. The longer I practice “Yoga in Daily Life” the fewer questions I have about integrating Yoga into our western culture. Yoga, and here I mean specifically “Yoga in Daily Life”, provides a way to health and harmony. Yoga exercises produce a balance on the physical, mental and social levels. Perfect balance, means perfect health and each method or science that strives towards this goal is in harmony with the concept of Yoga.
As I continue to experience the benefits of “Yoga in Daily Life” and its immense value for our health, the need grows in me to allow this knowledge to flow into my work as a Physiotherapist. The number of patients re-admitted for physiotherapy care, strengthened my belief that the integration of “Yoga in Daily Life” greatly enriched my therapy.
“These days I take the time to practice the exercises and have learned to feel a greater awareness of my body. Due to this I often succeeded in becoming aware of unnecessary tension and consciously release it.”
“I can now relax more easily and from this have the ability to summon more strength.”
“The ability to consciously be aware of and influence my breath has contributed greatly to my wellbeing.”
The Importance of Relaxation in “Yoga in Daily Life”
The ability to relax in Yoga has just as much importance as correct practice of the physical exercises. Each exercise session begins and ends with a short period of relaxation. There is also a brief relaxation period between the exercises.
The deeper significance of relaxation is contained in the fact that during relaxation the body is given sufficient time to respond to the Yoga exercise. The practitioner can consciously follow the balancing effects of the exercise and develop a fine awareness of the body’s functions. Yoga exercises should always be coordinated with the breath and practiced with great awareness. In this way the holistic effect upon body, mind and consciousness will unfold.
Since I have been practicing the system “Yoga in Daily Life” I have placed more value on relaxation, breathing and the conscious performance of movement in my therapy. I personally have discovered how important these three aspects are for the restoration of physical and mental balance and the extensive role they play in our health. The therapeutic application of “Yoga in Daily Life” in many areas of health, has become ever more clear to me as I continue to meet patients who present with a great variety of disorders. In the process, I have learned to constantly re-assess the full value and immense benefits of this system.
“Yoga in Daily Life” as a Supplement to Physiotherapy
The Yoga exercises are well suited as a home program for many patients. They can be selected and adapted for the individual by the Therapist. The clear illustrations and text instructions make it easy for patients to practice with independence. I recommend to many patients that they practice the “Yoga in Daily Life” exercises as a follow-up to their Physiotherapy treatment. It presents itself excellently as a daily exercise program when no further therapeutic supervision is necessary. My patients are quite willing to practice these exercises, as they can perceive the positive influence on their health.
“Yoga in Daily Life” in Respiratory Therapy
Yoga exercises are of great importance in respiratory therapy. Western medicine also has a high regard for the value of these exercises. As far as I know, most books about respiratory therapy recommend some form of Yoga exercise for the improvement of respiratory function.
The exercises of “Yoga in Daily Life” are designed in such a way, so as to guide the inhalation into all areas of the lungs, by means of the various physical postures. This encourages proper breathing habits and stimulates the body’s metabolic rate. Correct breathing is an essential prerequisite for health, which is why so much importance is placed upon the breath in the practice of Yoga.
In addition to the physical exercises, I recommend many of my patients to practice Nadi Shodhana according to the instructions of “Yoga in Daily Life”. These special breath exercises balance Prana, the life energy in one’s body. Nadi Shodhana promotes healthy respiratory function and induces a very pleasant feeling as a result of physical and mental balance.
“Yoga in Daily Life” for Back and Joint Pain
The graduated system of Relaxation, Breathing and Physical exercises, is a useful program for patients who present with painful joint and muscular imbalance due to overuse and repetitive strain. The Yoga exercises systematically train the muscles of the whole body, alternating stretches with holding postures, relaxation and movement.
Once medical diagnosis has excluded natural damage as the cause of a problem then it can be assured that regular practice of “Yoga in Daily Life” will improve muscular balance and joint health.
Poor posture and bad habits in movement place undue of pressure on the spine. The resulting muscular tension is a frequent cause of back pain, which may also radiate to other areas of the body, such as the head, neck, arms and legs. This is why each Yoga Asana generally involves some part of the spine in the exercise. Those exercises that include a gentle twist of the spine specifically relax the deep layers of muscles in the back. These muscles connect the individual vertebra along the spine and are very much inclined to hold tension. As these muscles are oblique, they receive immense benefit from gentle twisting exercises.
Stretching and strengthening the muscles should be combined. If a muscle is only stretched it immediately tenses and shortens again under pressure when it lacks the necessary strength. If a muscle is only strengthened it loses its flexibility and elasticity, which manifests as reduced mobility.
Strong and flexible muscles form an important protection for the spine and joints. That is why regular practice of Yoga exercise reduces the symptoms of spine and joint problems after just a few weeks. Practice of the Yoga Asanas provides the necessary range of movement to maintain proper health of muscles, ligaments, cartilage and joint capsules, which is essential for their function. The ligaments and connective tissue that surround each joint become tight with muscular tension, but become more supple by stretching. The Yoga exercises also enhance the production of joint fluid from the inner layer of the joint capsule, thereby nourishing the joint. Cartilage, discs and menisci all require balanced movement to preserve flexibility and mobility.
Psychosomatic Effects of “Yoga in Daily Life”
The Yoga exercises are in fact psychosomatic exercises, meaning that they influence the body, mind, breath and consciousness. This fact greatly augments my work. Many of my patients suffer neck, back or head pain that can often be attributed to the inability to cope with stress. However, many also neglect to admit this and instead seek long term help only through physiotherapy measures. In such cases, the Yoga exercises help patients who are otherwise unlikely to improve without an inner change, as these exercises produce an effect on both the physical and mental level.
“Yoga in Daily Life” has helped me discover just how comprehensive the Yoga exercises are and their profound effect upon the body and mind. All the exercises of physical movement, breathing and relaxation techniques, bring harmony to each function of human existence, in a most natural way. In every case the Yoga exercises positively influence the person as an integrated whole. From my experience those patients who suffer recurring, stress related headache or back pain, find the system of “Yoga in Daily Life” an extremely beneficial and enjoyable exercise program.
“Yoga in Daily Life” is in itself a complete and comprehensive health system. The results of my own practice strengthen the fact that the effects reach far beyond the physical level. That is why I recommend the application of this system, to enrich the life of each and every health conscious person.
Harriet Bucher, Dipl. Physiotherapist
Regular practice of Yoga will keep the human body vital and healthy into old age. Yoga exercises have a medically demonstrable, stimulating and regulating impact upon all systems of the human body, including the glands, organs and nervous system. They have a purifying and regenerative effect on the entire body. During practice of the Yoga Asanas, the rhythmic alternation of stretching and contracting individual parts of the body causes blood and lymph to be squeezed out of the vessels. With each contraction there is a brief reduction in blood supply and then with each stretch the same area becomes flooded with a fresh supply of blood carrying oxygen and nutrients. In this way, organs and muscles receive optimum nourishment, circulation is improved and there is better elimination of toxins and waste products.
In the stretching phase of the Yoga Asanas, gentle pressure is exerted on the base substance between the cells of the body. This substance is responsible for transmission of information between cells. Yoga Asanas improve this function, which enhances lymphatic drainage, decongestion of the body’s tissues and increased elimination of waste via the kidneys. The body’s lymphatic system is responsible for transporting fatty substances from food through the blood vessels, and is also responsible for the elimination of waste products from the body’s tissues. The lymphatic system is of prime importance in immune function, therefore in principle, the immune system is greatly supported by the practice of Yoga Asanas. One other organ of the lymphatic system to greatly benefit from stretching and relaxing is the skin, which is the largest organ of our body. The Yoga practices retain elasticity of the skin and therefore its youthfulness.
The inverted postures in particular, such as Viparitakarani Mudra, Sarvangasana and Shirshasana, produce an improvement in blood supply to the upper part of the body. Venous congestion is relieved in the lower part of the body and blood pressure is regulated. Practice of the Dynamic Asanas slightly raises blood pressure and thus stimulates circulation. However, the relaxation process after practice of the Asanas (especially the deep relaxation of Yoga Nidra), induces a conscious switch of function from the Sympathetic Nervous System to that of the Parasympathetic Nervous System. The change is one from activity with elevated blood pressure and increased pulse rate, to a state of lowered blood pressure and relaxed pulse.
As a consequence the Autonomic Nervous System, which is normally beyond our conscious control, responds indirectly to the Yoga exercises by restoring functional balance of the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems. The Endocrine System is also regulated in much the same way. This produces a feeling of wellbeing, inner balance, harmony and ultimately, optimum health.
Dr. Med. Ingrid Gebhardt