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Sherry Zak Morris

Sherry Zak Morris

Yoga Studio Owner and Yoga Video Producer

Sherry is an E-RYT Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher, the co-founder of Yoga Journey Productions and owner of the Yoga Vista Studio. Sherry studied under the tutelage of octogenarian yoga teacher, Mary Cavanaugh. She came to yoga afters years of computer-related work stress and thousands of dollars in chiropractic bills. She is the Co-Founder of Yoga Vista Academy, an Advanced Studies Yoga Teacher Training School specializing in Gentle, Senior, Chair Yoga, Yoga Therapy and Somatic Yoga.

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Yoga for Common Health Issues

Yoga for Common Colds
Yoga poses provide a gentle, natural means of supporting the immune system on a day-to-day basis—no matter how hectic your schedule might be. Yoga helps lower stress hormones that compromise the immune system, while also conditioning the lungs and respiratory tract, stimulating the lymphatic system to oust toxins from the body, and bringing oxygenated blood to the various organs to ensure their optimal function. "Yoga is unlike other forms of exercise that focus only on certain parts of the body," says Kathleen Fry, M.D., president of the American Holistic Medicine Association in Scottsdale, Arizona. "Yoga works on everything."

Inversion poses like Down Dog encourages blood flow to the sinuses and like most inverted postures or forward bends they focus the immune system on the sinuses, ultimately helping to ease congestion. These particular types of poses also work to prevent the complications of secondary infections by draining the lungs.

"Drs. Robin Monro, R. Nagarathna, and H.R. Nagendra, authors of Yoga for Common Ailments (Fireside, 1991), also emphasize breathing exercises. Sectional breathing and rapid abdominal breathing increase the resistance of your respiratory tract.

A recent study at UCLA revealed that subjecting healthy people to someone contaminated with a cold for 48 hours did not give the healthy subjects a cold. The conclusion? Colds result not from a cold virus, but from "an internal disturbance of the body's immune system," according to the researchers. When you are run down, you are more susceptible to getting sick.

Yoga For Insomnia
Sleep deprivation can yield similar harmful health consequences. According to the National Sleep Foundation, research suggests that sleep is associated with immune function—especially deep sleep or the non-REM phase of sleep, when immune-enhancing hormones increase in production. One study showed that sleep loss decreased the production of white blood cells needed to fight infection.

Yoga will benefit your sleep in three ways:

1. The quality of your sleep will improve because of yoga's beneficial effect on the nervous system, and in particular the brain. This results from certain yoga poses that increase the blood supply to the sleep center in the brain, which has the effect of normalizing the sleep cycle.
2. You will need less sleep because of the improved quality of your sleep, and because yoga increases the elimination of toxins from the body. On average, for every minute you put into yoga you will need one minute less sleep. This makes yoga an excellent time investment.
3. You will fall asleep in a shorter time. This is mainly because the body and mind are more relaxed.

Yoga will make you fall asleep sooner and improve the quality of your sleep so that you need less. You will have a more restful sleep because of the relaxing aspect of yoga and the subsequent relieving of stress, tension and fatigue. You will wake up every morning ready to go instead of wishing you could stay in bed.

Yoga for Indigestion
Gary Kraftsow, a Viniyoga teacher based in Maui, Hawaii, states that improper digestion causes toxin build-up, which in turn manifests as disease anywhere in the body. Poses that gently compress, twist, or extend the belly can help a host of digestive ailments.

Yoga poses result in an improved blood and nerve supply to the digestive and eliminative systems, which in time will get them functioning at peak efficiency. In poses like Down Dog, the stomach lift massages the digestive organs, as well as contracts and stretches them bringing in a new blood supply.

One of the digestive benefits of yoga is that it restricts the blood flow to certain parts of the body while holding some poses. Once these poses are released, this area of the body is then flooded with blood and thus, oxygen. Oxygen has healing properties and is necessary for proper organ function.

Inversions are a helpful way to ease up the stress of digestion by reversing the impact of gravity on the intestines. Inversions are also very helpful for constipation. Inversions are defined as any pose where the legs are above the heart. It is best if inversions are held for a length of time- at least for a few minutes and up to 15 minutes.

Yoga poses increase blood flow to your digestive tract and stimulate the intestinal action known as peristalsis so digestion is more efficient. Yoga also calms you, which in turn relaxes your digestive system and leads to more effective elimination. Forward bends increase the space in the abdomen and facilitate the release of entrapped gases.

Yoga for Headaches
Tomas Brofeldt, M.D., at the University of California's Davis Medical Center in Sacramento is a doctor of emergency medicine with a special interest in headaches. Trained in structural engineering as well as medicine, Brofeldt treats head pain using yoga to correct posture. He believes 75 percent of all headaches arise from muscle tension in the back of the neck, specifically the neck muscles running from the back of the neck to the spine, due to problems in posture.

People who have rounded shoulders, a strong curve in the upper back, and a tendency to hold the head forward, cause the "headache muscles" to be held in a chronically shortened state. You see this in people who spend a lot of time on the computer, or in jobs that require deskwork. This fatiguing contraction of the "headache muscles" causes a reduction in blood flow to the vessels of the head. Headaches are caused because these muscles are starved of blood.

Margaret Holiday, D.C., a chiropractor in Marin County, California, agrees with Brofeldt's observation that the most common cause of headaches is the forward head position, with rounded shoulders, a curved upper back, and the accompanying muscular tension. "Anything that distorts the spinal curves has the potential to cause headaches," headache sufferers often have upper respiratory, shallow breathing. Yoga poses that open the chest, roll back the shoulders release this tension area, allowing more blood to enter into the brain.

Richard Blasband, M.D., director of research at the Center for Functional Research in Tiburon, California speaks of headaches from a bioenergetic (energy flow) perspective: "Many, but not all headaches are the result of acute stress," he says. "One of the manifestations of this state is chronic muscular hypertension.

Why Meditation?
Most anxious thoughts have to do with either the past or the future; meditation teaches you how to be more aware in the present moment, which gives you a deep rest.Ample research has shown that just 20 minutes of meditation a day increases endorphins, decreases cortisol levels, and fosters positive states of mind to promote better health.

By releasing physical and mental tension, you will liberate vast resources of energy. The Yogic Breathing Exercises known as Pranayama revitalize the body and help control the mind, leaving you calm and refreshed; combine this with the practice of positive thinking and Meditation, and the result will be increased clarity, mental power and concentration.

Daily practice of Yoga meditation will help train your mind and body to stop thinking and stop action. It trains you to turn inward to a peaceful silence which encourages sleep.

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