The immune system is a complex array of organs, cells and molecules distributed throughout your body, responsible for protecting your body from harmful invaders such as germs, viruses, parasites and other foreign substances.” ~ Mayo Clinic
“The body’s ability to protect itself from viruses, bacteria and other disease-causing entities is known as immunity, from the Latin word immunis, meaning exempt.” ~ a medical text called Human Physiology: An Integrated Approach.
“Although at first sight, the immune system may appear to be autonomous, it is connected by innumerable structural and functional bridges with the nervous system and the endocrine system, so as to constitute a multisystem.” ~ Branislav D. Zankovic, Neuroimmunomodulation: the State of the Art.
The immune system serves 3 major functions:
- It protects the body from Pathogens: microbes: bacteria, viruses, fungi, one-celled protozoans; Parasites: hookworms, tapeworms.
- It removes dead or damaged cells.
- It tries to recognize and remove abnormal cells
Sometimes the body’s immune system fails to perform its normal functions; the resulting medical conditions are generally categorized as:
- incorrect responses – autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus.
- overactive responses – allergies.
- lack of response – immunodeficiency diseases can be genetic or acquired (HIV)
Modern day challenges for the immune system are:
- mental stress
- air, water, soil pollution
- noise pollution
- processed foods
Adapting a healthy lifestyle has been scientifically proven to enhance and strengthen the immune system. One of the health and wellness modalities that are being intensely studied is yoga.
Multiple studies show Yoga can enhance the immune system but most of them were focused on long term results.
In June 2013 scientists from the University of Oslo Norway showed that as quickly as two hours after a yoga class the immune system is enhanced at a cellular level.
Participants involved in a week retreat spent 2 days practicing yoga for 2 hours; 2 days walking in nature and listening to music for 2 hours. The researchers analysed blood samples immediately before and after
The yoga sessions included mindful breathing techniques; mindful movements and postures and mindful meditation techniques.
Researchers published “Here we have shown, to our knowledge for the first time, that there are rapid (within 2 hours of start of practice) and significant (3 fold) gene expression changes in PBMCs of practitioners during a comprehensive yoga program. These data suggest that previously reported effects of yoga practices have an integral physiological component at the molecular level which is initiated immediately during practice and may form the basis for the long term stable effects.”
It is theorized Yoga affects the Immune System by
- Stimulating the lymphatic system.
- Augmenting the respiratory system.
- Enhancing the circulatory system.
- Facilitating the digestive process.
- Consumption of healthy foods.
- Calming the nervous system.
- Massaging and stimulating the internal organs.
- Assisting oxygenated blood to reach the various organs to ensure optimal function.
- Improving strength and stamina, both physical and mental.
- Releasing tightness and tension in the body.
- Increasing mindfulness – body awareness and supportive healthy behaviours.
- Developing coping mechanisms and strategies for approaching challenging situations.
- Cultivating compassionate relationships with oneself and others.
- Releasing stress and eliciting the relaxation response.
- Fostering a positive state of mind.
I personally believe yoga works so well because of the many techniques involved in one session at the same time. As we approach the “Cold and Flu Season” in Dominica – practice yoga for a strong immune system.
Recently there has been a huge increase all over the world in companies who provide weekly yoga sessions for their staff.
This simple move can affect a organization’s bottom line in many ways:
* yoga is scientifically proven to enhance levels of immunity so staff have a lot fewer sick days.
* yoga prevents repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome; lower back pain;
* when employees are fit and healthy they are more happy. In addition, companies are starting to recognize the value of happiness amongst their staff. When you are happy, you are more productive, healthier, and more likely to stay in your job. This study shows how happiness and productivity are correlated. By offering a very small fraction of the workday to practice balance and mindfulness, companies are investing in employee’s happiness, and so much more. What a great way to increase your company’s profits and improve the bottom line.
* yoga can be of therapeutic benefit for a host of illness including back injuries;
* can attract talent – office yoga sets your company apart from competitors. More often, companies are seeing perks like yoga, meditation, and nap rooms as a worthy investment.
* perks like yoga, meditation, and naps can attract harder-to-find employees, like software developers and other competitive talent with multiple offers. Beyond that, these perks have real value, and studies show that yoga, meditation, and sleep measurably increase happiness. Companies are recognizing the financial benefits of offering these services.
* Employee retention can be a huge part of a company’s success. Finding and training new employees is an expensive task, and once you’ve found the perfect fit for a position in your company, it’s a big loss if they leave. Many companies feel the employee health programs they offer attract and keep employees.
Although there are many different forms of arthritis, the most common forms are Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis.
Mayo Clinic defines Rheumatoid Arthritis
“Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet. Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.
An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues. In addition to causing joint problems, rheumatoid arthritis sometimes can affect other organs of the body — such as the skin, eyes, lungs and blood vessels.
Although rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, it usually begins after age 40. The disorder is much more common in women.
Treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and preventing joint damage.”
Mayo Clinic defines Osteo Arthritis
“Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time.
Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint in your body, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine.
Osteoarthritis often gradually worsens, and no cure exists. But staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and other treatments may slow progression of the disease and help improve pain and joint function.
Osteoarthritis is the most commonly found joint disorder and is often caused by trauma or wear and tear on the joints; a wearing away of cartilage occurs; bony overgrowths may also occur within the joint. Joint movements tend to become more painful and restricted.
Yoga for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Although the principal causes of arthritis are unknown, experts cite aging, injury, obesity, infection, and autoimmune reactions as possible factors.
Many people have found practicing yoga to be one of the best ways of managing pain or keeping pain at bay.
Gentle Hatha Yoga and Restorative yoga has long been recognized as a beneficial. therapeutic exercise for arthritis; the gentle, movements; the focus on the breath; the relaxation into the poses and the concept that each person goes only as far into the poses as it feels right for them to go; is perfect for those dealing with limited range of motion and stiffness in the joints.
Practicing yoga regularly improves stamina, cardiovascular and respiratory function while joint vulnerability decreases. Psychologically the participant feels better and has more energy.
Yoga stretching can enhance levels of flexibility by lengthening shortened muscles; therefore providing an improved range of motion.
Weight bearing poses build muscle and bone; improving posture and. strength.
The massage from gentle exercising brings the blood and fluid flow to the area, releasing tightness and tension and lubricating the joints which helps with stiffness.
The release of “feel good” chemicals in the brain; such as endorphins; help the participant to manage pain.
Exercising can also help you lose any extra weight, which means less strain on the joints in our daily movements.
A good exercise programme will incorporate three types of exercise: range of movement, strengthening and cardio.
It is often best to arrange for a few private classes or attend a special Yoga for Arthritis program before entering even a beginners yoga class.
Have your yoga teacher advise you on the best exercises and variations of exercises to do for your level of fitness, range of motion and your bodies reaction to the exercises. Then most participants can confidently enter a regular beginners or hatha yoga class.
Move gently, gradually and persistently towards optimal alignment, quick or excessive movement should be avoided.
Start with frequent, low intensity sessions. In almost every case within a few weeks the participant is able to increase the length of yoga sessions to a 1 or 1 ½ hour regular class.
Listen to and respect your body. Exercise intensity should be reduced or avoided during periods of pain and inflammation. It is important not to overstrain yourself.
Breathe properly, utilizing the entire lung. Do not hold the breath. Work towards making the inhale and exhale the same length. Treat the complete breath as an exercise that will increase your lung capacity and strength over time. The paced breath is proving to be a very powerful pain management technique as well.
Do not hold a single position for prolonged periods of time.
Give the body some time to adjust to the new program. Commit to at least one month to see if this is the right program for you.
It may be helpful to take a hot shower or bath before beginning your practice. Be safe and warm up thoroughly when you start. Make sure to cool down at the end.
In the beginning it is usual to feel some discomfort as your muscles get used to being exercised. Seek advice from your doctor if you feel pain in the joint itself or if the pain continues as this might be a sign you have overdone it.
Please talk to your doctor before starting any new healthy lifestyle program.
Contact Rainbow Yoga Health and Wellness for tours, workshops and classes. 317-3753, email@example.com
“Every morning I get up and I don’t think about what I’m going to do tomorrow, or today, or what I did yesterday,” she said. “I think it’s going to be the best day of my life.” ~ Tao Porchon – Lynch; New York Post
Tao Porchon-Lynch has inspired me for years now – she has been recognized as The World’s Oldest Yoga Teacher since 2012 by The Guiness Book of World Records and every time she hits the news I am filled with joy to see her achieve another dream ….. in her 90’s!
I absolutely love how she immerses herself in each activity because she enjoys them and then lets it flow – in this case to win a famous dance contest.
“I am not interested in knowing about what I cannot do only what I can.” ~ Tao Porchon – Lynch; TED Talks
She does not give up – she continued practicing and teaching yoga after a hip replacement and a rod in her leg; double hip replacement in her 80’s; a broken wrist and now she is dancing and on her 3rd hip replacement!
Just recently she wowed the judges and the audience with her dancing skills – they gave her standing ovation on America’s Got Talent 2015.
Her life reads as a fairy tale; born in India; marched with Ghandi; modelled in France; befriended by Marilyn Monroe in Hollywood; works with the Dali Lama …..
Her yoga bio is just as impressive: Started practicing yoga at 8 years old on the beach in India! Practiced yoga for 70 years! Teaching yoga for 56 years! Studied with BKS Iyengar and K Pattabhi Jois! At 96 she can balance her weight on her hands!
Pablo Imani – one of my favourite Egyptian Yoga teachers and the founder of Afrikan Yoga.
What keeps yoga alive for me is diving into the different cultures and styles of yoga.
I practiced yoga for over 10 years and never heard anything about African Yoga. Then in the 1970’s I went to visit a museum display on the Egyptian Kings particularly King Tut. As I gazed at the drawings and paintings the first yoga pose I saw was the plow.
That startled me into looking more intensely and I saw yoga poses in other artefacts too. The Wheel; The Lotus and an interesting Kneeling Twist I never saw anywhere before. To this date in all my research I have never saw that pose in another style.
As with Indian Yoga and Tibetan Yoga there are many different styles of Egyptian Yoga and some are religious based and some are not.
Most styles of Egyptian Yoga are based on concepts outlined in an ancient Egyptian text called The Book of Emerging into the Light (originally translated as The Egyptian Book of the Dead. The similarities of the lifestyle described in this ancient text to the lifestyle described by The Yoga Sutras is fascinating.
This book was often commissioned by wealthy families and they had some control over the contents so there are many different variations.
Very interestingly the Egyptian word for ‘Yoga’ ‘Smai Twa’ means union – similar to the Sanskrit word ‘Yoga’ which is considered to mean union.
According to Pablo Imani of Afrikan Yoga one of the most famous Egyptian Yoga teachers from Uganda Africa.
“This form of Egyptian Yoga, focuses on energy development and emotional cleansing of the physical and emotional body through the development of movement and postures.
Through the practice of a system of Sayunaats/Postures commonly called Asanas, its use of Hanu movements Raagus African Dance and Hudu African Tai chi aims to unite the body, mind and spirit for health and well-being. This discipline is considered a powerful tool to relieve the stresses of modern-day life which in turn can help promote total physical and spiritual well-being.
Afrikan Yoga is characterized by its attention to rhythmic movements and precise focus on breath. Menfesawe-Imani pioneered the use of affirmations, drums, stretch-bands, sticks, crystals and stones held in the hands and the elements Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether, which function as aids for combining body and psycho-spiritual awareness allowing beginners to experience movement and postures more easily and fully than might otherwise be possible without several years of practice.
An emphasis of co-ordinating movement, dance and awareness of muscles, internal organs and emotional effects of movements are emphasized in Afrikan Yoga. They are said to release emotional blockages, increase vitality, improve circulation, libido coordination and balance, ensuring a strong foundation for meditational poses.
Unlike the Western and Indian approaches where students are fixated to static movements of the body and suppressed emotions an Afrikan Yoga class is verbal and lively with precise instructions and corrections to movements and postures. A typical class encourages freedom of movement in the hips, torso, arms and legs.”
Egyptian Yoga Pose, Ka (Spirit)
- Begin with feet together, hands at your sides. Step forward on left foot.
- Lift arms to sides; bend elbows at right angles, palms forward.
- Inhale, then exhale while turning toward left. Keep feet in place, the head centered between your arms. Release in the left hip.
- Inhale, then exhale while turning head to the right. Inhale head back to center, exhale to the left, inhale to center.
- Lower arms. Bring feet back together.
- Step forward with right foot and repeat on the other side.
Model: Yirser Ra’
Dr. Musta Ashby is another early promoter of Egyptian Yoga in the US. He is teaching a ‘vinyasa’ from Egyptian Yoga – The Journey of Ra/The Sun Salutation.
A few of my favourite Egyptian Yoga clips on youtube.
Yoga, African Yoga, Afrikan Yoga, Ancient Egyptian Yoga, Smai Tawi, Kemet Yoga, Khamit Yoga
Kemetic Yoga for All
Want to spend some quality time in the incredible natural environments of Dominica?
Dominica abounds with Nature Adventures but if you want to try something besides hiking; grappling or diving?
Try Yoga in the Isle of Nature… find the mind body breath nature connection.
Silk Asara; Yoga Teacher; Musician; Health and Wellness Entrepreneur; Member of Rainbow Yoga Health and Wellness – developer of Roots Yoga – practice with Silk at The Rainbow Yoga Health and Wellness Studio Harlem Plaza. Find yourself from within……
The Hidden Benefits of Yoga
The physical benefits of yoga are absolutely amazing but after we get a little deeper into our practice we start to see a whole range of benefits we really did not see when we started our practice.
After we find the right and left side of the body; after we realize no one is looking at us; after we stop holding our breath and breathe normally – we start to free up.
We start to accept our bodies and mood; observe them without judging – we adapt our practice to what is right for our bodies and our state of mind at the moment.
We become aware of healthy and unhealthy patterns of movement and living = we begin to strive towards balanced mindful patterns of being.
We start to know our bodies from within; this body awareness allows us to achieve optimum functional fitness without injury – we become more ‘Body Honest’.
We begin to truly find our breath and this heightened awareness of the breath allows us to start moving the body with the breath – we become more mindful.
Our attention and presence start to be maintained by the continuous moment by moment awareness of the fusion of our mind body and breath – we become more mindful.
Our awareness of internal changes is enhanced and we begin to prevent Repetitive Stress Injury from our day to day living by acknowledging tightness in the muscles – we start to practice ‘Self Care’.
We start to improve muscle strength through our focus and the fine tuning of our movements and we suddenly can practice stronger and stronger positions – without pain we gain.
We begin to accept the flexibility of our muscles and allow our bodies to go only to that delicious level of stretch and suddenly we realize we are a little more flexible our muscles have increased in resting length – without pain we gain.
We learn to look within finding our edge and increasing it without strain; our ability to self monitor tells us whether to soften or engage; ease off or deepen – without pain we gain.
We realize we actually have control over muscles with our mind and we learn to release our muscles consciously – we find the external stillness our bodies can have.
We realize we actually can control the chatter of our mind, we find the quiet place in our mind – we find the internal stillness our minds can have.
We become aware of the subtle energy flows within our bodies gaining an energetic intimacy with ourselves and the environment.
Regular practice of yoga can:
Improve energy levels.
Lower heart rate and blood pressure.
Improve blood cholesterol.
Maintain optimal body weight or body fat.
Build and maintain healthy muscles, bones, and joints.
Relieve depression and anxiety.
Enhance feelings of well-being and self esteem.
Improve cardiovascular and/or cardiorespiratory function.
Decrease blood triglycerides.
Improve glucose tolerance and reduce insulin resistance.
Increase muscle, tendon and ligament strength.
Strengthen immune system.
Shrink fat cells.
Stimulate brain activity.
Relax the mind and body.
Build core strength.
Improve flexibility and range of motion.
Prevent or alleviate headaches.
Prevent or alleviate back challenges.
Improve focus and concentration.
Fight the effects of aging.
Lower chances of some cancers including breast, colon and prostrate.
Lessen chances of getting diabetes by 40%.
Prevent and reverse heart disease.
Reverse Prostrate Cancer
Reverse Heart Disease
Assist with Recovery
Lower health care costs.
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