Importance of yoga in neurological disorders

Neurological disorders are conditions that affect the central or peripheral nervous system. These include epilepsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy (CP), motor neuron disease (MND), and Alzheimer’s disease. A neurological disorder may be caused by genetics, illness or infection, brain or spinal cord trauma, or problems with blood supply to the brain. Many are lifelong conditions with no cure but can be treated to improve symptoms and quality of life. One of the things that have importance in neurological disorders is yoga.

Neurological disorders are common. They account for 13% of all deaths each year. Stroke is the most common reason for hospitalization, followed by epilepsy. Neurological disorders are also the fourth leading cause of death.



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Types of intervention for neurological disorders

Many types of interventions can help people cope with the effects of their condition and reduce secondary problems. These include:

Physical activity and exercise

In older adults, regular physical activity has been shown to help mental well-being and skills such as walking and balance. This can be anything from walking around the block or using an exercise bike at home to working out in a gym with a personal trainer. Self-management strategies, including self-monitoring, goal setting, behavior change techniques (e.g., relaxation), and coping strategies, work best when used together. Pain management – physical therapies such as acupuncture, massage therapy, standardized auricular electrotherapy (electrodes attached to earlobes), transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (T) machines, biofeedback training, yoga, pilates, tai chi, and qigong can help reduce pain.


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) 

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people develop coping strategies to address negative thoughts about their condition, feelings of anxiety, or depression. Mindfulness-based stress reduction involves teaching deep breathing exercises and meditation in a supportive group setting.

There is evidence that certain types of exercise can help neurological disorders. Yoga is one of the types of exercise that has been studied for this purpose. 


Meaning of yoga

Yoga is an ancient art form originating from India around 5000 years ago. Since then, the practice has spread worldwide and is now widely accepted as a beneficial therapy for all age groups. Scientific evidence suggests it may improve psychological well–being, quality of sleep, pain management and also aid weight loss. Research shows that yoga has significant importance in neurological disorders. By practicing yoga can help decrease anxiety, depression, insomnia, and even chronic pain and may eventually even improve memory.

Treatments for these conditions may also affect people’s social interactions, work potential, self-esteem, and overall mental health. As a result, they often develop secondary problems such as anxiety, stress, fatigue, low mood, perceptual changes, and cognitive impairment that can worsen symptoms. Up to 43% of people with Parkinson’s disease report depression. 


Types of yoga

Girl doing yoga

Yoga practice has developed over thousands of years, with much cross-fertilization between various schools.

Even today, there are at least seven distinct styles or “schools” of yoga, each with its own philosophy and practices, but all generally devoted to physical fitness, mental wellbeing, and spiritual development.

Below is a brief description of the seven main types of yoga in alphabetical order. We have also included several lesser-known types at the end, which you may or may not have heard about.

Aerial yoga

Aerial yoga is taught in rooms where hammocks are suspended from the ceilings to create a safe and supportive place to practice yoga. It can help build strength, increase mobility and flexibility, and aid in rehabilitative therapy. The hammock enhances balance by constantly shifting under you as you move through different poses, working your muscles in ways that would not be possible on solid ground.

Anusara 

A relatively new yoga school, Anusara has been popularized by its founder, John Friend. He has written several books on the topic, and his goal is to offer a system of yoga that is accessible and beneficial for all bodies and abilities. The philosophy draws upon five major schools: karma (action), bhakti (devotion), hatha (body), jnana (knowledge), and raja (meditation).

Bikram 

Bikram yoga is performed in a room heated to approximately 105 degrees, with the humidity ranging between 40-50%. Do not attempt this type of yoga unless you are sure that you can handle it – it is very intense! The heat of the room is used to help loosen and stretch muscles more quickly to get a more intense workout in less time. Classes usually last 90 minutes.

Hatha

Hatha yoga is probably the most widely-practiced form of yoga today. Derived from traditional schools in India (which go back thousands of years), Hatha yoga is most often associated with physical postures or “asanas”.

Iyengar 

Iyengar yoga is named after B.K.S. who taught this system of yoga to the West in the 20th century. The poses are held for a long period of time (5 minutes or more), and they utilize many props such as belts, blocks, and chairs. This style emphasizes correct alignment and focuses on body awareness, emphasizing safety and comfort.


Jivamukti yoga 

David Life and Sharon Gannon founded Jivamukti Yoga in 1984 as part of their theatre troupe (which had been started as a protest against the use of animals in entertainment). The school incorporates music, chanting, meditation, and scripture into its classes.

Kundalini 

Kundalini yoga is considered the most powerful form because it uses breath work (pranayama) which stimulates several key energy centers in the body called “chakras”. This type of yoga also utilizes many mantras (sacred words) and mudra (gestures) to help cleanse these chakras and push spiritual growth even further.


Importance of yoga in modern life

According to the Yoga Journal, yoga is “a practice that links breath, body, and mind to bring about a happy and healthy lifestyle.”

In other words, yoga is an important part of maintaining a healthy life. Practicing yoga every day has many benefits for your physical and mental health. Here are just six reasons why you should practice yoga every day:

It’s good for your mental health

Yoga has been shown to help control emotional stress levels as well as manage mental health problems like insomnia and depression through breathing techniques (similar to meditation), which promote relaxation, among other things, thus resulting in overall better mental health. Yoga also produces serotonin, a chemical within the body responsible for mood stability because it’s released during deep relaxation, which improves sleep patterns (research suggests that at least 40 minutes of daily exercise can contribute to improved sleep quality).

It’s good for your physical health

Yoga is a great workout that increases energy levels as well as improves both strength and flexibility. As mentioned in the previous section, yoga can help calm an individual down, promoting healthy eating habits. Yoga also strengthens muscles by developing lean muscle tissue by using only one’s body weight for resistance against gravity instead of using other materials like free weights or machines-related equipment at the gym. This reduces the chance of injuries and allows students to become stronger. Yoga also improves flexibility because it is done at a slow, controlled pace, allowing for deeper muscle stretching than other forms of exercises, which only stretch the body’s muscles while active (like running) instead of resting like yoga does.


It’s helpful for your heart health

The American Heart Association states that yoga may be good for you because it can lower blood pressure and reduce stress-related behaviors such as smoking and drinking alcohol excessively. One study shows that yoga helps treat heart disease by increasing the activity of antioxidant enzymes within blood cells, protecting them from damage caused by free radicals like pollution. Other studies show that practicing hatha yoga regularly could help prevent coronary artery disease and diabetes, while some yoga positions like the cobra pose have been shown to effectively reduce symptoms of angina. Yoga also helps improve heart health by increasing blood supply and nutrients to the heart,, improving its function and reducing the chances of coronary artery disease.

It can help with your digestive health

One study suggests that yoga helps treat irritable bowel syndrome (a common disorder that affects the large intestine) because it promotes relaxation, thus minimizing stress on the abdominal area where most symptoms occur. Furthermore, not only does practicing yoga daily increase flexibility in joints which then increases mobility, but another study shows that it can reverse osteoporosis in women by increasing bone density because bone mass actually increased at the spine after one year among post-menopausal women who regularly practice yoga. Yoga can also help improve digestive health because it reduces constipation and problems like diverticulitis.

It helps with your weight loss goals

Many people think yoga is simply a workout of bending and stretching-related activities, but there are different forms of yoga that include cardio workouts as well as strength training activities which are similar to what many individuals do at the gym. This helps achieve weight loss because it exercises all parts of the body, which increases metabolism, tones muscles, improves cardiovascular health-promoting good cholesterol while reducing bad cholesterol, thus resulting in overall healthier heart function, reducing stress levels through calming breathing techniques that keep reactivity down among cortisol levels (a hormone responsible for stress), and keeps individuals active throughout the day by promoting physical activity through practices like vinyasa yoga which is similar to power yoga or Bikram that helps increase flexibility, strength, and stamina.


It has mental health benefits

Yoga has been shown to help control emotional stress levels as well as manage mental health problems like insomnia and depression through breathing techniques (similar to meditation), which promote relaxation, among other things. This allows students to express themselves freely without judgment or persecution from others, thus resulting in overall better mental health. Yoga also produces serotonin, a chemical within the body responsible for mood stability because it’s released during deep relaxation, which improves sleep patterns (research suggests that at least 40 minutes of daily exercise can contribute to improved sleep quality).


Importance of yoga in neurological disorders

Yoga has many proven benefits for physical and mental wellbeing. It is widely considered to be an effective approach when it comes to managing stress, anxiety, depression, and pain. Yoga has been shown to improve mood, decrease anxiety levels and stress, balance the autonomic nervous system and promote better sleep patterns. Furthermore, several studies have investigated the effects of yoga on specific diseases such as MS, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. This section focuses on how yoga can benefit people with neurological disorders rather than being practiced by them.

Several other benefits make it important for people with neurological disorders:

  • Body posture straightening
  • Control of tremors
  • Improvement in breathing among neuromuscular disorders
  • Increase in body flexibility and coordination
  • Increased endurance, strength, and stamina due to improved muscle tone.


Effects of yoga on MS patients 

The physiological effects of practicing classical yoga were observed in a study conducted on a group of patients with MS. During the study, a classical yoga session was performed, and it was found that each participant experienced a total physiological effect as well as mental relaxation. In addition to this, participants reported improved sleep patterns, better moods, and less fatigue as a result of their involvement in the therapy sessions. Furthermore, results from an MRI scan which was conducted before and after the yoga therapy period, showed positive changes to white matter lesions and brain volume. As such, it can be inferred that practicing yoga has beneficial effects on people who suffer from MS.

Yoga’s effect on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

The benefits of yoga on people with dementia are also evident due to its ability to improve physical functioning through balance training and increased flexibility. In a study conducted on elderly people with Alzheimer’s disease, a behavioral approach involving yoga and meditation techniques was used to improve physical function, mood, and behavior. It was found that the group who received this behavioral intervention improved in all three aspects as compared to those who only received medical treatment.

In addition to this, improvements in cognitive functioning were also reported after practicing yoga which led researchers to believe that yoga can be beneficial for improving mental health for those with dementia. Furthermore, a brain imaging technique known as fMRI showed changes in areas of the brain associated with sensory integration, spatial orientation, and emotional response among participants after they underwent a behavioral program that involved both relaxation and balance training.

Yoga’s effect on Huntington’s disease

Another neurological disorder that has been known to benefit from yoga is Huntington’s disease. In a study that involved the use of yoga therapy, eight patients with HD were taught breathing exercises, postures and were encouraged to meditate for 30-45 minutes every day. The effects of practicing yoga on the patients were then measured via an fMRI technique, which showed improvements in brain functioning after regular practice. Specifically, it was found that the therapy led to increased activity in areas of the brain associated with motor planning and working memory.

With many neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, in addition to Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease, results from studies have shown that yoga can be an effective way of managing symptoms. It has also been found that it can provide structural changes to the brain, which leads scientists to believe that yoga might be able to prevent neurological diseases. Since each person is different, it is important to note that no two people will respond in the same manner when practicing yoga. Therefore, it would be advisable for anyone who wishes to practice yoga independently or with an instructor to monitor their progress and adjust accordingly.


Yoga exercises for neurological disorders



Conclusion

Yoga has been shown to have an importance in an effective treatment for neurological disorders, and it also provides many proven benefits for physical and mental wellbeing. The practice can help improve balance, flexibility, strength, creativity, and focus and has been proven to show positive changes to white matter lesions and brain volume. We all know that yoga is good for you! It’s time to take the plunge into a new way of living with this ancient art form as your guide.



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