Yoga for Asthma | Yoga Therapy

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Image: The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne – www.rch.org.au

I’m not asthmatic but this topic interests me because my elder son is.  My son loves his cardio and team sports.  He plays tennis. He’s an avid soccer player and swims.  He also loves to dance and practices Karate, too.  It’s heartbreaking to see his performance being limited by his asthma, especially in his younger years.  He is now 7 and the asthmas seems to have progressively improved but during the winter months, especially during his sleep, the coughing spells occasionally makes their way back.  Yoga isn’t something that my son likes to do at this point in his life but I’m certainly hoping to help his asthma by encouraging him to do 10-15 minutes of a tailored program like this in the coming season, especially as we enter into winter.  I hope this piece is interesting and helpful to you.  Feel free to leave me comments.

SPECIFIC ISSUE

Asthma is a chronic lung dysfunction where the sufferer will experience difficulty in breathing resulting from the airways narrowing and swelling/inflammed, with more mucus.  People with asthma experience periods of ‘flare-ups’, which  brings on symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, difficulty in breathing and chest tightness.
There are various triggers for asthma flare-ups that range from slow development to the more acute, sudden onset of an asthma attack. The lung likes warm, moist and clean air so when one of these 3 components are disturbed is commonly when it triggers an asthma attack, such as cold air, exposure to allergen in the air (tobacco, pets, dust).  Things that put pressure on the respiratory system can also trigger an attack, such as a cold or even exercise.

Research is inconclusive of the exact causes of asthma but shows family history, eczema, hay fever sufferers and babies exposed to tobacco smoke have a higher risk of developing or having asthma.

THE BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR THIS ISSUE (SYMPTOM CONTROL)

There are various pieces of research carried out on the benefits of yoga, with some showing beneficial and others being inclusive.  One 8-week study of 57 adult asthmatics revealed that those who did yoga showed a significant improvement in lung function and reduction in asthma symptoms than those who did not do yoga in the control group^.  However, another recent study published by Annals of Allergy* http://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(14)00198-7/abstract concludes that yoga can only be considered ‘ancillary intervention’ or alternative therapy and not ‘routine intervention’.  More importantly,  yoga was not associated with adverse effects.
Both studies, though, are congruent to GxS Yoga Therapy’s principles in that it is not ‘medical invention’ but a complementary program with the aim of relieving symptoms.

For the purposes of this project, we look into yoga therapy as a form of gentle exercise for asthmatics in light of the fact that more strenuous physical activity may bring on asthma attacks.  Breath work techniques can help asthma sufferers learn to cope with episodes of attack.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

1. When having respiratory system inflammations of any sort, e.g. bronchitis, cold, pneumonia, nasal congestion
2. Avoid poses which require ‘flexion’ of the torso and ‘closing in’ of the chest such as Boat pose, Head to Knee, Plow Pose and Seated Forward Fold.

3. Avoid long, deep breathing or ‘ujayi’ breath if new to yoga and at the beginning of the practise.  Let the body ease into deep breathing if comfortable.

15-30 MINUTE FLOW

In all poses, try to breathe in AND OUT through the nose to retain heat in the body.  By doing so, it promotes correct diaphragm behaviour and persisting can often clear a chronic blocked nose.
1. Easy Seated -> Relaxed and even belly breathing (2 minutes)
2. Butterfly Pose -> Relaxed and even belly breathing for (2 minutes)
3. Seated Twist
4. Staff Pose
5. Sage Pose
6. Bridge Pose/Fish Pose
7. Knees to chest
8. Bow Pose/Cobra Pose
9. Extended Childs Pose
10. Downward Dog
11. Hero Pose

12. Corpse pose

SOURCES & RESEARCH

  1. ^http://www.everydayhealth.com/asthma-pictures/great-yoga-poses-for-asthma-relief.aspx
  2. http://www.artofliving.org/yoga/health-and-wellness/Overpowering-asthma-with-yoga
  3. http://www.yogajournal.com/article/health/asthma-answers/
  4. http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/top-8-yoga-asanas-to-beat-asthma/
  5. http://www.medicaldaily.com/yoga-doesnt-help-asthma-sufferers-control-their-breathing-any-better-other-breathing-exercises
  6. https://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/national/about-asthma/what-is-asthma
  7. http://www.aihw.gov.au/asthma/what-is-asthma/
  8. http://www.yogajournal.com/category/poses/contraindications-modifications/asthma-contraindications-modifications/
  9. *http://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(14)00198-7/abstract

*Disclaimer:
These suggestions offered in the Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine yoga classes or therapy programs on www.lovejosephine.com are not intended to replace medical recommendations by your medical practitioners. It is highly recommended and, in most cases, essential that you stay compliant to the treatment advice given by a western medical professional.The suggestions and educational resource offered by Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine on www.lovejosephine.com are meant to be observed and used in conjunction with medical treatment. Neither the therapy programs nor yoga classes are designed nor recommended to replace medical treatment.

The resources offered here are intended to complement and support the medical treatment targeting the specified issue, with the goal of enhancing the well-being of the patient.

Yoga for Diastasis Recti | Yoga Therapy

As I start to cover all these yoga therapy topics and programs on my blog, I’ve realised I’m uncovering quite a few issues that I face in my body!  I’ve never realised that there were so many issues, if I had to break them down, that I am working through, too.  And more importantly, that I am finding resolve with yoga therapy.  You’ll find in my social media posts that I love my back-bends and boats and planking.  Behind the scenes, I often struggle with ‘stopping’ the practice of backbends to allow for the recovery of my diastasis recti.  Whilst I can’t say I have a complete recovery (closed gap), yoga therapy has certainly helped me bring awareness of my need to ‘strive’.  Take this for example..I know that I need to rest and stop the back-bends to help with my DR.  At the same time, as soon as I feel like the gap is closing a little, I’m in my wheel pose.  And I wonder why I don’t have that strong core I want for my handstands…..All part of the learning.  I totally do not recommend doing what I’m doing.  At the same time, if you’re anything like me, give me a high five.  I know how you feel.
SPECIFIC ISSUE
Diastasis Recti
Diastasic Recti is the thinning of the tissue, linea alba, that connects the two rectus abdominis muscles in the core of the body.  More commonly known as the ‘separation’ or ‘gap’ (typically diagnosed with a gap of around 2.7cm or more) between the abs, occurring more frequently in women who have been through pregnancy although men and babies can also have this.
diastasis_V2_watermark
Diastasis Recti 2

Photo source: http://www.belliesinc.com/mummy-tummy-2/

THE BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR THIS ISSUE (SYMPTOM CONTROL)

For this particular project, there are a number of commonly taught yoga poses that should be avoided to avoid worsening Diastasis Recti (DR).   For the purposes of this project, it isn’t so much about how yoga is beneficial to DR because there exercises discussed in this project are not typical yoga poses.  More importantly, it is the understanding  of the biomechanics of the body that will help us realise which yoga poses or body movements to refrain from doing.
Modern research shows that exercises that activate the transversus abdominis (TVA) muscles is of most benefit to ‘closing of the gap’.  However, in more severe cases of DR, medical practitioners may advise surgery to prevent or treat other more serious forms of dysfunctions resulting from the DR, such as hernia.  When translating this into a yoga therapy program, it would consist of deep breathing with targeted TVA-focussed exercise while drawing awareness to the navel and body’s midline.
Yoga poses to avoid are the ones which stretches of places stress on the rectus abdominis muscles.  Generally speaking, they are poses that require:
  1. back-bending which stretches the midline, e.g. bow, cobra, up dog, camel, wheel and bridge
  2. the head and shoulders lifted off the ground in a back lying position which prevents engagement of the TVA and with increased intensity, causes the belly to protrude, e.g. boat pose
  3. being on all fours with the navel and knees lifted off the ground, which causes the organs to press down into weak abdominal muscles and slows down healing, e.g. downward dog, plank pose, and bear pose
  4. rotating and forward/laterally stretching the upper body and having the arms extended away from midline, which makes it impossible to engage the TVA, e.g. revolved side angle, triangle, low-lunge, half-moon.

CONTRAINDICATIONS
1. Cat pose is one that requires modification to reap benefits for DR and should be carried out with the assistance of a yoga therapist.
2. Lifting and carrying heavy objects is not advisable and applies to yoga with weights.

3. Some practitioners may advise on avoiding abdominal breathing but for the purposes of this project, it is recommended to partake in this breathing technique on the basis that the benefits outweigh the detriments (if any at all).

15-30 MINUTE FLOW

1. Abdominal breathing with each hand placed on respective side of abdominal muscles. Feel the navel expand on an inhale.  Exhale and bring belly button in towards spine on exhale. [Repeat 5 times, drawing awareness to the navel]
2. Seated lateral shifts – In easy seated position, have sitting bones rooted into the ground. Place each hand on respective side of abdominal muscles.  Keeping shoulders and ribcage square and level, shift the upper body laterally to the left on an exhale at the same time pulling belly button into spine.  Inhale and bring upper body back to centre (neutral).  Repeat on the right.  [Repeat for 5 sets]
3. Chair pose – observing spinal alignment and don’t tuck tailbone. Hold for 3 sets of breath and rest.  [Repeat for 3 sets]

4. Belly button pulsing – On inhalation, expand the belly.  Exhale and draw belly button in toward the spine, and then pulse the belly button into spine 5 times.  Rest for 1 belly breath. [Repeat for 3 sets]

SOURCES & RESEARCH

  1. http://breakingmuscle.com/womens-fitness/12-weeks-of-workouts-to-rebuild-after-diastasis-recti
  2. https://fit2b.us/how-to-check-for-diastasis-hd/
  3. http://happyyoganewcastle.com/yoga-for-diastasis-recti-split-abs/
  4. http://www.anadavis.com/ana-davis-blog/entry/postnatal-yoga-and-diastasis-recti
  5. http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/abdominal-separation-diastasis-recti
  6. http://www.befitmom.com/diastasis-recti.php
  7. http://www.mamanurture.ca/diastasis-recti-yoga-for-abdominal-separation/
  8. https://fit2b.us/how-to-check-for-diastasis-hd/
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diastasis_recti
  10. http://inspiredrd.com/2013/11/5-exercises-to-heal-diastasis/
*Disclaimer:
These suggestions offered in the Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine yoga classes or therapy programs on www.lovejosephine.com are not intended to replace medical recommendations by your medical practitioners. It is highly recommended and, in most cases, essential that you stay compliant to the treatment advice given by a western medical professional. The suggestions and educational resource offered by Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine on www.lovejosephine.com are meant to be observed and used in conjunction with medical treatment. Neither the therapy programs nor yoga classes are designed nor recommended to replace medical treatment. 

The resources offered here are intended to complement and support the medical treatment targeting the specified issue, with the goal of enhancing the well-being of the patient.

Yoga for Bulimia | Yoga Therapy

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[Edit: A few readers have been curious as to what inspired this post.  Usually for all my other therapy posts, I have a little blurb to introduce it.  And for this post, I had originally left it blank.  Why?  Because I wasn’t so sure I was comfortable in publicly posting this where it will be forever shared on the Internet.  Because I still carry a shadow of shame for my years suffering from bulimia and body image issues.  So I decided to leave it blank.  I’m not lying if I’m not saying, right?
But with a sigh of relief, I’ve been encouraged to share this.  I did. I was once a sufferer of both anorexia and then, recovering from that, bulimia.  On and off for 10 years.  But God worked His miracles, as He always does and He healed me.  Healing wasn’t easy but if you believe it will happen, it will.
Now that I’ve revealed this.  I can probably conjure up enough courage to share a little more but in another post.  All this post is about is how Holy Yoga CAN actually help in the journey of eating order recovery. And yes, I know how this feels.]

SPECIFIC ISSUE

BulimiaTHE BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR THIS ISSUE (SYMPTOM CONTROL)
Particularly for sufferers of eating disorders, yoga can help relieve and bring healing to the sufferers.  Here we narrow the study into Bulimics – characterised by those who consuming large amounts of foods in a short amount of time, following by ‘purging’ either through self-induced vomiting or the use of laxatives, commonly resulting from an overwhelming sense of guilt and fear of gaining weight after the excessive food intake.  Bulimics are frequently associated with other mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.
A *study carried out in Australia showed that bulimics who engaged in a 12-week yoga program self-reported reductions in binge eating and increased their physical activity, and a small number of them saw reductions in BMI.
Firstly, the spiritual benefits of GxS Yoga Therapy for relieving bulimic tendencies is to help the sufferers find peace and comfort in Christ.  Starting from this pivotal change in belief can help bulimics realise or reduce the need to ‘purge’ after a binge-eating session through acceptance.  From there, they may find it easy to start relying on God’s grace and love for comfort in lieu of the need a ‘binge’ for comfort and satisfaction.
Different breathing techniques adapted to individual circumstances can help the sufferer learn to cope with anxiety.  Through deep breathing, which sends signals to the brain for the body to relax, it gives the sufferers an opportunity to reflect and face the root causes of their eating disorder instead of escaping them.  By addressing the deep-seated issues which are causing the disorders does the sufferer stand a chance of healing and recovering in a sustainable way.
Deep stretching and staying in a certain challenging yoga poses can help bulimics understand and deal with managing temptation.  By training the brain and body to find ways of adapting to a challenging situation, a bulimic can learn the techniques and coping mechanisms to manage the next bout of ‘binge’ temptation.

Most importantly, GxS Yoga Therapy promotes the importance of handing over the willingness to be healed over to God than the ‘willpower’ of our selves to change the habit, addiction or disorder.  Perhaps that willpower was the very culprit that got the bulimic into the disorder in the first place.  So, trusting the willpower is a risky choice.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

1. If diagnosed by medical practitioner as to having low blood pressure, avoid any reclining positions.
2. If suffering from reflux, avoid any poses that inverts the upper body such as standing forward fold.

3. If BMI is under a healthy range and protruding bones are causing pain in certain poses, seek advice from yoga therapist on how to modify poses or whether it is safe to participate.

15-30 MINUTE FLOW

1. Easy seated (Somatic Method -> Listen to your breath, Watch your belly rise and fall, Lengthen and deepen breaths)
2. Double pigeon -> Fold forward (Left & Right)
3. Easy seated (Somatic Method -> Clench fists/Release, Shrug shoulders/Relax ->  1 set of breath each -> Feel the difference)
4. Seated forward fold (Stay for 5 sets of breaths and resist temptation to ‘get out of the pose’)
5. Seated Open A (Stay for 5 sets of breaths and resist temptation to ‘get out of the pose’)
6. Bow pose (Open up the heart and chest and release any feelings of shame, guilt or anxiety)
7. Extended Childs Pose (Somatic Method -> Don’t ‘try’ just relax -> Imagery on the words ’surrender’ & ‘embracing’)
8. Hero Pose (Somatic Method -> Eyes closed and listen only for 3 sets of breaths)
9. Reclined Hero

10. Final resting in Reclining Supported Bound Angle (rolled up mat underneath the back at the bottom of the ribs but above the lumbar)

SOURCES & RESEARCH

  1. http://www.yogajournal.com/article/eating-disorders/truth-yoga-eating-disorders/
  2. http://www.sonima.com/yoga/yoga-eating-disorders/
  3. http://www.empowher.com/bulimia-nervosa/content/anorexics-bulimics-binge-eaters-yoga-can-help-studies-say
  4. *Study – 2009 School of Health and Social Development, Faculty of Health, Medicine, Nursing and Behavioural Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19632546
  5. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/245537044_A_systematic_review_of_physical_therapy_interventions_for_patients_with_anorexia_and_bulemia_nervosa
  6. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6070/How-Yoga-Helped-Me-Recover-From-an-Eating-Disorder.html

*Disclaimer:
These suggestions offered in the Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine yoga classes or therapy programs on www.lovejosephine.com are not intended to replace medical recommendations by your medical practitioners. It is highly recommended and, in most cases, essential that you stay compliant to the treatment advice given by a western medical professional. The suggestions and educational resource offered by Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine on www.lovejosephine.com are meant to be observed and used in conjunction with medical treatment. Neither the therapy programs nor yoga classes are designed nor recommended to replace medical treatment.

The resources offered here are intended to complement and support the medical treatment targeting the specified issue, with the goal of enhancing the well-being of the patient.

Yoga for Kyphosis | Yoga Therapy

 I now teach a seniors class with a room full of aged care students, often suffering from bone and spinal issues.  Kyphosis is not the most common but prevalent enough that prevents the students from being able to sit up tall in class, even if this is a chair yoga class I teach.   It’s interesting to understand and study whether emotional issues that are deep-seated is the larger cause of this misalignment or whether genuine poor posture is the larger cause.  With my current observations, those who suffer from kyphosis often have a deeper story hidden within their hearts.  Your body naturally protects your heart (emotions) even on a physical level by hunching or collapsing inwards to protect it.
SPECIFIC ISSUE
Kyphosis

THE BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR THIS ISSUE (SYMPTOM CONTROL)

Kyphosis is an excessive outward curvature in the thoracic spine (upper back) that creates a ‘hunchback’ appearance.  This condition often brings on back pain, ranging from mild pain to more severe pain and difficulty in breathing and digestion.
There are several causes of kyphosis and this program here only attempts to address symptoms of kyphosis NOT resulting from congenital disorders, arthritis, osteoporosis or any bone degeneration dysfunctions in the body.   This program is designed for kyphosis often caused by chronically holding poor posture over time.
The benefits of Holy Yoga for kyphosis are:
  1. to stretch and strengthen the muscles causing the issue
  2. to bring awareness of correct spinal alignment
  3. to draw attention and bring awareness of any emotional issues that may be causing kyphosis
  4. to bring healing of any emotional issues attached to the cause of kyphosis
  5. re-train the body and implement lifestyle changes to minimise spinal alignment issues


CONTRAINDICATIONS
1. If your symptoms are severe, do not start or engage in any physical or yoga therapy without first getting clearance from your medical practitioner.
2. If your kyphosis is caused by osteoporosis, severe scoliosis, spondylitis and any other bone degeneration dysfunctions, take caution or completely avoid reclining, back bending poses and spinal twists.
3. If there are any sharp pains while doing yoga poses, stop immediately.  Consult your yoga therapist to ensure the poses have been carried out correctly and if the sharp pain persists every time you get into a pose, stop and seek medical practitioner’s advice.

15-30 MINUTE FLOW
1. Mountain pose with eyes closed (5 breaths and notice alignment of the body)
2. Son Salutation B
3. Easy seated (SSRS)
4. Cow face arms (with strap.  Left & Right)
5. Extended Childs pose
6. Cobra pose
7. Extended Childs pose
8. Bow pose (with strap)
9. Locust pose
10. Extended Childs pose
11. Bridge pose

12.  Reclining Supported Bound Angle (rolled up mat underneath the back at the bottom of the ribs but above the lumbar)

REFERENCES:

  1. http://www.lexiyoga.com/yoga-for-kyphosis
  2. http://www.yogabasics.com/learn/yoga-poses-for-kyphosis/
  3. http://www.medicinenet.com/kyphosis/page2.htm#what_are_the_symptoms_of_kyphosis
  4. http://www.yogajournal.com/article/practice-section/break-out-of-your-slump/
  5. http://www.bodiempowerment.com/advanced-posture-exercises/
  6. https://www.yogauonline.com/yogau-wellness-blog/yoga-exercises-for-hunched-back-hyperkyphosis
  7. http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/spinal-deformities/kyphosis-causes-and-treatment
  8. http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/guide/types-of-spine-curvature-disorders
*Disclaimer:
These suggestions offered in the Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine yoga classes or therapy programs on www.lovejosephine.com are not intended to replace medical recommendations by your medical practitioners. It is highly recommended and, in most cases, essential that you stay compliant to the treatment advice given by a western medical professional. The suggestions and educational resource offered by Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine on www.lovejosephine.com are meant to be observed and used in conjunction with medical treatment. Neither the therapy programs nor yoga classes are designed nor recommended to replace medical treatment.

The resources offered here are intended to complement and support the medical treatment targeting the specified issue, with the goal of enhancing the well-being of the patient.