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Yoga - 7/14/2011

More than just a popular exercise fad, yoga is an ancient Indian philosophy and form of alternative medicine designed to balance your mind, body, and spirit. The various styles of yoga that people use for health purposes typically combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation, which is usually achieved best through focusing attention or maintaining a specific posture. There is growing evidence to suggest that yoga works to enhance stress-coping mechanisms in the brain as well as increase mind-body awareness. 

The first know text on yoga, The Yoga Sutras, was written more than 2,000 years ago in Sanskrit, the classical language of India, although it may have been practiced as early as 5,000 years ago. The word “yoga: comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, meaning yoke or union, referring to the connection between body and mind that yoga is purposed to achieve.

Originally developed as a method of discipline and attitudes, yoga was used to help people reach spiritual enlightenment. The Sutras outline eight limbs or foundations of yoga practice that serve as spiritual guidelines:

      1. Yama – moral behavior
      2. Niyama – healthy habits
      3. Asana –physical postures
      4. Pranayama – breathing exercises
      5. Pratyahara – sense withdrawal
      6. Dharana – concentration
      7. Dhyana – contemplation
      8. Samadhi – higher consciousness

The numerous schools of yoga incorporate these eight limbs in varying proportions. Hatha yoga, the most commonly practiced in the United States and Europe, emphasizes two of the eight limbs: postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranyama). Many people who practice this type of yoga do so as a form of exercise, and thus different, more advanced styles of yoga have spawned from Hatha including Bikram, or “hot yoga”, and Ashtange, or power yoga.

According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), more than 13 million adults had used yoga in the previous year, and between 2002 and 2007 the use of yoga among adults increased by 1% or 3 million people. The 2007 survey also found that more than 1.5 million children used yoga in the previous year. The huge popularity of yoga looks to be more than just a trend or fad, because of its positive, tangible effects and low injury risk.

People use yoga for a variety of health conditions including anxiety disorders or stress, asthma, high blood pressure, and depression. People also use yoga as part of a general health regimen, both to achieve physical fitness and to relax. Recent research also suggests that yoga helps to improve mood and sense of well-being, counteract stress, reduce heart rate and blood pressure, increase lung capacity, improve muscle relaxation and body composition, and positively affect levels of certain brain and blood chemicals.

Want to try your hand at yoga, and join the 13 million Americans who are becoming mentally and physically fit in doing so? Healthy Back offers a range of products specific to yoga exercise at a great value, including the G2 Fitness Mat with instructional graphics to guide you through your workout, and the unique Health Mark Yogacise Bench. This lightweight unit features adjustable tension straps in 2 locations and allows you to work your muscles through a complete range of motion. For added resistance and more leveraged positioning during your yoga workout, be sure to check out the Body Sport Exercise Ball or the Health Mark Exercise Bar.

No matter your age or physical ability, yoga is a great workout for your body and mind. Take your first step to wellness with yoga-tailored products from Healthy Back. 

The Healthy Back Store is a specialty retailer that provides high-end comfort solutions and ergonomic products for back pain and other physical conditions. The company offers pain relieving products for sleeping, working, exercising and relaxing including back and neck supports, specialty mattresses, office chairs, exercise and therapy equipment, recliners and massage chairs. Healthy Back sells recognizable name brands such as Herman Miller and Tempur-Pedic, but also represents smaller, specialized manufacturers offering a growing selection of house-branded goods. Healthy Back has 23 stores in 6 states across the United States, and also sells through its website and call center, making it the largest privately owned back care retailer.