Fall always inspires me to learn something new or take on a new practice. It’s the back-to-school energy.
During the summer, we deal more with the external – traveling and playing outdoors. Fall, on the other hand, is a time of organizing our life for the winter season ahead and coming more inside our body and mind to reflect on our life.
Consider using the Fall energy to start an easy yoga practice. Yoga improves your health.
If you’re someone who is attempting to reduce inflammation (and who isn’t) movement really makes a difference. Diet is also very important and I’ve written about anti-inflammatory foods in other newsletters. Today I am going to explain 3 ways a regular practice of yoga helps reduce inflammation. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, as little as 10 minutes makes a huge difference.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation occurs when a foreign substance – microbe, plant pollen or chemical enters your body. Your immune system gets activated. White blood cells are released into the blood or tissue to protect you.
Inflammation also occurs when you get injured. Blood rushes to the site of the injury resulting in redness and warmth. This inflammation facilitates healing.
However, sometimes inflammation persists even when you’re not threatened by a foreign invader or experiencing an injury. It’s known as chronic inflammation. This is the type of inflammation you want to prevent or reduce.
Chronic inflammation has been linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s. Did you know it also causes you to age more rapidly showing up as symptoms of pain and low energy?
3 Ways Yoga Helps Reduce Inflammation
Stress causes inflammation by wreaking havoc on your digestive system and blood sugar levels.
If you’re chronically stressed, your body is going to be pumping out lots of cortisol.
Your digestive system will not work well. because you won’t digest food when you’re body feels like a lion is chasing it. Your stomach lining gets irritated from the undigested food and inflammation occurs.
Your organs won’t get the vitamins and minerals needed to remove toxins. You become acidic as the toxins build up. Your whole body gets inflamed.
Cortisol also causes your body to move sugar into your bloodstream for a source of quick energy. If you aren’t using this energy, the sugar gets stored as fat, often belly fat. Researchers have confirmed that belly fat cells are secreting molecules that increase inflammation. (1)
High stress and inflammation go hand in hand. Yoga is fantastic for decreasing stress levels. Research shows a regular yoga practice increases levels of leptin and adiponectin. Both of these natural chemicals work to alleviate inflammation in the body. (2) (3).
Focusing on breathing during yoga increases oxygen to your brain. When your brain has more oxygen it calms down. You begin to feel from your heart, rather than thinking from your mind.
Tuning into your body and breath during yoga goes a long way towards restoring your peaceful state of mind and reducing inflammation.
2. Yoga Improves Blood Sugar Balance
Another significant benefit of yoga is improved blood sugar balance. Exercise uses up blood glucose preventing it from getting stored in your fat cells. Yoga is a gentle exercise that does not stress your body.
Asanas also help balance the endocrine system. Yoga massages and tones the abdominal organs like the pancreas and liver, and stimulates the nervous and circulatory systems which help improve blood sugar balance.
Excess sugar in your bloodstream causes inflammation, so the more steps you can take to avoid this, the better.
3. Yoga Helps You Sleep Better
Good sleep is key to reducing inflammation. Sleep is as important as any nutrient or vitamin. If you don’t get enough of it you won’t be healthy. Losing sleep, even for one night, triggers pro-inflammatory cytokines that produce tissue-damaging inflammation according to new research. (4) Inflammation is increased in people with insomnia and sleep apnea.
A good nights sleep keeps you calm, reduces cortisol and helps keep your blood sugar in balance.
In a national survey over 55% of people who did yoga found that it helped them get better sleep. Over 85% said yoga helped reduce stress.
Yoga has the unique ability to be stimulating and relaxing. It delivers a combination of soothing breathing and deep stretching which helps your muscles relax, increases sleep-friendly melatonin and lowers the sleep antagonist cortisol.
An Anti-Inflammatory Yoga Sequence
Here is a simple practice of yoga to help reduce inflammation. There is a short video for each pose to guide you.
These poses reduce inflammation by relieving muscle aches and improving circulation and respiration. Your body is much better equipped to combat stress and function effectively when you have better circulation and respiration.
These asanas also improve your digestive health, which is very much connected to your immune system response and inflammation.
- Practice yoga in the morning or evening for 10 minutes or more.
- Always focus on your breathing when moving through a posture or holding it.
- As you continue to practice, increase the time you hold your poses.
Cat Cow Pose – Repeat 12 times
Mountain Pose – hold for 5 breaths
Downward Facing Dog – hold for 3 breaths
Warrior 1 Pose – hold for 15-30 seconds per side
Triangle Pose – hold 15 seconds per each side
Tree Pose – hold for 15- 30 seconds per side
Recline Twist- hold for 12 seconds each side
Childs Pose – hold for 15 seconds
Reducing inflammation is important for maintaining vibrant health and aging gracefully. Taking 10 minutes each day to practice a few yoga ananas reduces inflammation by lowering stress, improving blood sugar balance and giving you a better nights sleep. Lower your body’s inflammation and you’ll look and feel better.