Use Yoga For Natural Healing


| May/June 2000



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Yoga is hot. With styles ranging from the gentle Iyengar yoga to Bikram’s therapeutic yoga done in intense 90 to 100 degree heat, yoga is attracting a following in Western culture. Yoga participants are not just svelte young students in complicated poses. Today’s yoga classes are filled with people of all ages and abilities, and health-care practitioners are now prescribing yoga to patients for conditions from heart disease to arthritis.

As we get older, we happen to need yoga more, says Leah Uhlenhopp, a certified Bikram’s yoga instructor at the Yoga College of India in Aspen, Colorado. Years of stress, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise have a cumulative effect. People over fifty generally come to yoga with physical problems such as a bad back or knee pain, too, says Suza Francina, author of The New Yoga for People Over 50 (Health Communications, 1997) and an Iyengar yoga instructor in Ojai, California.

Today, yoga classes are filled with people of all ages and abilities. 

Because yoga includes psychological and spiritual awareness, practicing yoga may be easier for an older person, says Uhlenhopp. With maturity comes an improved internal focus and a better attention span, as well as a greater capacity for further mental and spiritual growth through yoga, she says.

Discipline is necessary for success, and it takes a lot of work to see the benefits. “As with any alternative medicine, it takes time,” says Chris Bunting, another Bikram’s instructor in Aspen. “But the long-term benefits are great.” The instructors say the benefits run the gamut, from relieving the symptoms of menopause and diabetes to reducing the risk of osteoporosis, arthritis, and heart disease.

Yoga for disease prevention and general health

Bill Mitchell, M.D., a general practitioner, yoga instructor, and adjunct faculty member at Bastyr University in Seattle, recommends yoga to his patients for general vitality, or to “tonify the vital force,” he says.





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