Yoga Competitions, Unclear On The Concept?

Yoga is supposed to bring attention — not tension — to the body

Man Doing Yoga PoseYoga, which can provide relaxation while combining strength training and deep stretches, is becoming a mainstream form of exercise in society. With this popularity have come many publications and online tutorials promoting yoga as a form of intense cardio exercise, one that some instructors caution against unless the practitioner has a strong background in the practice.

“Yoga is a personal experience,” said Shelley Taylor, adjunct instructor of yoga at Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington’s Department of Kinesiology. “Every individual body develops at a different pace, and it can never be a competition.”

Taylor, who has taught yoga in Bloomington for more 30 years, specializes in a more “restorative style” of hatha yoga and believes this style allows the body to slowly maneuver into poses to prevent injuries. She recommends this style for any level of student.

“The purpose of yoga is not to create tension but to give attention to the areas of the body that need energy through the breath,” she said.

Instead of viewing it as a rigorous workout, the key is to view it as connecting to the body rather than pushing the boundaries of the body, which is common in other forms of exercise. It is crucial to understand the proper way to do certain poses and the positive impact they can have on the body, as well as the many ways the poses may have a negative impact if performed inaccurately. Taylor said that taking a class with a qualified, experienced instructor will help the yoga student make sure the breathing, stretching and strengthening poses are being done correctly and safely. This can also eliminate any questions or doubts that may arise from exploring only on one’s own.

“The best way to explain the experience is that it is about learning something deeper than what we see in the mirror,” she said. “It’s about acceptance, forgiveness and compassion for the mind and body you have today.

“Creating space and time for quiet contemplation and observation, and listening deeply to what is occurring in one’s own mind and body, can be very informative. We all have wisdom within us, and yoga is a practice for tapping into that wisdom.”

Here are more safety tips for yoga practice:

  • Practice yoga on a relatively empty stomach — eat lightly one to two hours before class if needed.
  • Hydrate before, during and after yoga.
  • Listen to your own inner guidance and do what is best for you.
  • Breathe slowly, deeply and through the nostrils if possible.
  • Wear loose, comfortable (or stretchy) clothing and remove anything that might get in the way.
  • Do twisting poses from the right side of the body to the left to prevent digestion issues.
  • Women should refrain from doing inverted (upside down) poses while menstruating.

Shelly TaylorTo speak with Taylor, contact Tracy James at 812-855-0084 or Top

Shelley Taylor
Photo By Indiana University

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Ease Aching Joints With Golden Milk

Cup of Golden MilkOne of the preferred dietary enhancements recommended for beginning yoga students or senior citizens, is a wonderful tonic made with tumeric. It’s called Golden Milk.
When Nutrition News’s editor Siri Khalsa was the editor for the Kundalini Research Institute, she was accountable for our Spiritual Teacher’s (Yogi Bhajan) lectures getting transcribed and published. She was also lucky enough to have him actually prepare food for her on occasion.
Yogi Bhajan loved food and believed in its healing capacity. He was always sharing his healing recipes with us. Golden Milk was given to us to help our yoga students who suffered from severe stiffness. I first remember hearing about it when I had a football player who was in a lot of pain while teaching his body yoga stretching. Students loved the recipe and so did a lot of us.
Two recipes follow: One is the original recipe, published in From Vegetables, With Love
(1989 ) by Siri Ved Kaur Khalsa. The second is from a YouTube video of Dr. Arjan Kaur Khalsa teaching how to make Golden Milk. It’s fun to watch and what I love about it the most is her innovation to cook up a half cup of turmeric paste and then use it as need to make Golden Milk.
Yogi Bhajan’s Golden Milk — 1 serving
  • 1/8 t turmeric (we are accustomed to turmeric and I use up to 1/2 t)
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 cup milk (YB used cow’s milk but suggested any kind could be used. We used to make our own almond milk.)
  • 2 T almond oil (optional)
  • honey
  1. Boil water turmeric over medium high heat for 8 minutes. The turmeric will turn a deep rust red. This, along with the fat/oil in recipe, enhances the uptake of the turmeric.
  2. Meanwhile, bring milk and almond oil to boiling point in a separate pan.
  3. Combine the two mixtures and add honey to taste.
I seldom use any sweetener but honey and buy desert honey. In our recent issue “Bee Healthy”, I shared info from The Honey Revolution-Restoring the Health of Future Generations, that honey can actually balance glucose in the body and that people with diabetes can safely eat up to 5 tablespoons a day.]
Here’s the video and the link. I think you will enjoy it. We did.

Other recipe variations:

Golden Mild Recipe

Yoga Classes As Alternative To Pain Meds

Yoga Practice Used In Functional Restoration Programs

Yoga is flexing its way into the workers compensation world. By Roberto Ceniceros for Business Insurance Magazine


Industry experts say yoga, which combines stretching and strengthening exercises with meditation, even could help address a formidable workers comp problem: how to resolve complex claims involving patients with chronic pain treated with addictive narcotics. Yoga’s potential benefits for other work-related injuries are already documented in several evidence-based medical treatment guidelines that workers comp payers and state regulators expect treating doctors to consult.

The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’s guidelines say yoga can help address chronic lower back pain, persistent pain and arthritic hands, said Christopher Wolfkiel, director of ACOEM’s practice guidelines in Elk Grove Village, Ill. In workers comp cases, yoga is being incorporated into functional-restoration programs, said Mark Pew, senior vice president of business development for Prium, a Duluth, Ga.-based workers comp utilization review company.

Businesses providing the functional restoration programs aim to help patients, including those who have struggled with chronic pain from workplace injuries, Mr. Pew said. Often, such patients’ conditions have deteriorated following their injuries because they took increasing quantities of pain medications such as opioid drugs. Functional restoration programs often provide differing combinations of physical therapy, counseling for psycho-social issues, occupational therapy, addiction education and physical fitness activities such as yoga. See videos of worker’s comp yoga classes.

Rehabilitation service providers say their goals include helping patients improve their ability to cope with pain, increasing physical functioning and addressing emotional conditions to promote a more productive lifestyle.
The programs can cost workers comp payers tens of thousands of dollars for sessions that patients attend daily over several weeks. Yet their results, like their offerings, are mixed, several sources said. There is a lack of quality outcomes data showing what works and what doesn’t, said Eunhee Kim, CEO at EK Health Services Inc., a San Jose, Calif.-based workers compensation managed care company.
Patients might report health improvements and regaining lost physical abilities immediately after completing a functional restoration program, only to relapse months later with their pain and narcotic use increasing, Ms. Kim said. There could be several physical or social reasons for that. Payers may close a claim immediately after claimants complete such programs or they may offer follow-up care. To help injured workers suffering from multiple complications requires treatment with “interdisciplinary themes,” such as cognitive behavioral therapy blended with occupational or physical therapy, said Dr. Kathryn Mueller, a medical professor at the University of Colorado in Denver. Overall, increasing functional outcomes that are measurable should be the goal of all medical treatment, said Dr. Mueller, who is also medical director for the Colorado Division of Workers’ Compensation. “That is particularly true with opioid management, but it is true” for all care, she said. “In workers comp, we think of that as return to work or at least increasing job tasks” that an injured worker is capable of performing.
Without a strict definition of functional restoration, providers can assert that they offer such programs while providing nothing more than physical therapy, sources said. Some are even “fly-by-night” operations, Mr. Pew said.
To recommend which functional restoration programs provide good outcomes, Mr. Pew said he is attempting to score them based on a set of questions he developed for the service providers. The goal is to help work comp payers decide what action to take after utilization review and peer-to-peer discussions with a treating physician have concluded that an injured worker is consuming too many drugs without showing improvement.
While scoring functional restoration programs, Mr. Pew said he found that those that appear to have the best practices are making yoga part of their offerings. Yoga “helps with flexibility, which obviously is part of trying to get (patients suffering from chronic-pain issues) beyond the “I can’t move’ stage,” Mr. Pew said. Yoga also appears particularly suited for helping patients, such as workers who have experienced failed back surgeries, focus on something other than their pain, Mr. Pew said. “However you came to chronic pain, you have to figure out some way to not let it drive you,” Mr. Pew said. “That is really what functional restoration is trying to do — improve your function, which improves your quality of life.” But several experts said patients must be interested in the functional restoration program’s offerings and motivated to make lifestyle changes to achieve positive results. Better programs properly screen participants for their motivation before admitting them, sources said. Motivated patients can find yoga to be beneficial, Dr. Mueller said.
For a more in depth introduction to yoga, check out the  Complete Guide To Yoga Therapy It has everything you need to understand what yoga is and isn’t. There’s on thing that’s always been true about the many benefits of practicing yoga. It’s guaranteed to work, but there’s just one catch. You have to do it. Start where you are. Enjoy the journey.  


Yoga Eases Back Pain

From the Archives of Internal Medicine, October 2011, the largest U.S. Randomized, controlled trial of yoga to date found . . . . get ready . . . . yoga classes were linked to better back related function and diminished symptoms from chronic low back pain.

A Randomized Trial Comparing Yoga, Stretching, and a Self-care Book for Chronic Low Back Pain

Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH; Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD; Robert D. Wellman, MS; Andrea J. Cook, PhD; Rene J. Hawkes, BS; Kristin Delaney, MPH; Richard A. Deyo, MD, MPH

Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(22):2019-2026. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.524

Background  Chronic low back pain is a common problem lacking highly effective treatment options. Small trials suggest that yoga may have benefits for this condition. This trial was designed to determine whether yoga is more effective than conventional stretching exercises or a self-care book for primary care patients with chronic low back pain.

Methods  A total of 228 adults with chronic low back pain were randomized to 12 weekly classes of yoga (92 patients) or conventional stretching exercises (91 patients) or a self-care book (45 patients). Back-related functional status (modified Roland Disability Questionnaire, a 23-point scale) and bothersomeness of pain (an 11-point numerical scale) at 12 weeks were the primary outcomes. Outcomes were assessed at baseline, 6, 12, and 26 weeks by interviewers unaware of treatment group.

Results  After adjustment for baseline values, 12-week outcomes for the yoga group were superior to those for the self-care group (mean difference for function, –2.5 [95% CI, –3.7 to –1.3]; P < .001; mean difference for symptoms, –1.1 [95% CI, –1.7 to –0.4]; P < .001). At 26 weeks, function for the yoga group remained superior (mean difference, –1.8 [95% CI, –3.1 to –0.5]; P < .001). Yoga was not superior to conventional stretching exercises at any time point.

Conclusion  Yoga classes were more effective than a self-care book, but not more effective than stretching classes, in improving function and reducing symptoms due to chronic low back pain, with benefits lasting at least several months.

Trial Registration Identifier: NCT00447668

Yoga For Anxiety And Depression

For anyone who has ever had a yoga practice, the recent announcement from the Harvard Medical School about yoga’s effectiveness in reducing anxiety and depression is another “duh” moment in the annals of science.

Dr Leo Shambach, inventor of I guess unless it’s studied and tested, we’ll have to rely on “Mother’s Little Helper” and the pharmaceutical industry to do help us cope.

Whether you do yoga or not, just moving your body helps. Walking whenever you can goes a long way. It might even get you moving in a direction to try out this “yoga’ thing.

For those intrigued, a good first step is to check out The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Yoga compiled by Joanna Thomas. There’s bound to be something for everybody. .

The word “yoga” means union. Mind, body, spirit. Discover your yoga groove and never forget, it’s a . . . practice.

Yoga in the park


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