Yoga has long been touted for its many health benefits. One study of 750 heart disease patients found that after six months of three hourly sessions of yoga, significant reductions in LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and waist circumference were found. And when yoga and exercise sessions were performed for six months, the effects were even greater (Tanwar et al., 2017).
Another study found that in a group of veterans (who had reported experiencing depression for an average of over 11 years) who completed nine weekly session of yoga of approximately 2.5 hours each, levels of depression, rumination, anxiety, stress, and worry were found to be lower – and remained lower when tested four months later – than before the yoga intervention (Vollbehr et al., 2017).
Yet another study done by researchers at Waterloo found that just practicing 25 minutes of Hatha yoga or mindfulness meditation per day boosted the brain’s executive functions, cognitive abilities linked to goal directed behavior, and the ability to control knee-jerk emotional reactions, habitual thinking patterns and actions (Luu & Hall, 2017).
For Timothy Mccall, who is both a Western trained physician and practicing yogi, and the author of Yoga as Medicine: The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing, however, it is yoga’s prescriptive benefits that offer the most promise. He cites numerous conditions, such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, depression, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and arthritis where well known experts like Rodney Yee, Patricia Walden, and John Friend have used yoga as a way to directly treat, and dramatically improve, numerous symptoms.
Defining yoga as “a systematic technology to improve the body, understand the mind, and free the spirit,” McCall offers what could truly be considered a paradigm shift in the world of western medicine – that yoga can be used as medicine itself. In his fascinating book, he offers a broad based guide for anyone looking to used yoga to improve symptoms related to specific conditions, as well as a review of the best practices, suggestions, and exercises physicians can use immediately to improve the health of their patients.
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