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The Benefit of Yoga – Fight or Flight?

Medical conditions can be vastly improved through the benefit of yoga. Yoga can lessen the negative effects of such conditions as lung disease, Parkinson’s, insomnia, high blood pressure multiple sclerosis, and even joint pain. The benefit of yoga is being recognized today as a viable alternative not only by the yoga community, but by many medical doctors.

Stress is the leading cause in many illnesses today. An astonishing factor in today’s world is noted by the Surgeon General who estimates that “80 percent of the people who die of non traumatic causes actually die of stress diseases”. In this fast paced world, it is little wonder that people are turning to alternative solutions.

The use of the benefit of yoga is just one such solution. Since stress is developed in the mind, it is only natural that conditions such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, several auto-immune diseases, some types of diabetes mellitius, some cardio-vascular diseases, and irritable bowel syndrome would be at the forefront of human conditions and the quality of life today.

Outside stress is reflected in the reaction of our nervous system. The input stimuli, known as “Fight or flight” affects both our metabolism and well being. When faced with danger, whether real or imagined, the mind prepares the body for execution of one of these two conditions. Manifestation is in the form of increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, and the shutting down of unnecessary bodily functions, such as digestion. All systems are focused on one of two things – either “flight” or “fight.” Breathing becomes shallow, muscles tense in anticipation of action, and blood flow to vital organs is decreased. The digestive and elimination process shuts down. This can be a good thing – our body is prepared to defend itself. However, problems arise when this condition is long term. The “flight or fight” scenario is only meant to be a very short term event. One can see that long term exposure to this situation will have very adverse effects on the body. Yoga can change that.

In nature, the countermeasure for “fight or flight” is known as the “relaxation response” or parasympathetic nervous system. The main nerves of the parasympathetic system are the tenth cranial nerves, or the vagus nerves. They originate in the medulla oblongata. Parasympathetic stimulation causes a slowing down of the heartbeat, lowering of blood pressure, increased blood flow to the skin and viscera, and peristalsis of the GI tract – the exact opposite of “fight or Flight” symptoms. Yoga induces this response by teaching the pupil to breathe deeply and relax muscles. The benefit of yoga is clear. The body recovers faster, and the harmful effects of stress are reduced.

Yoga subscribes to the theory that by using breathing and relaxation techniques, the harmful effects of stress on the body can be eliminated, or at the very least greatly reduced. Through meditation and calming of the spirit, yoga teaches us to face the situation of “fight or flight” from a threat to a challenge. One is able through practice to focus on finding a solution, rather than creating an immediate response to the stimuli. One learns to be proactive, and take care of the stressors in their lives.

The benefit of yoga is undeniable. By utilizing the techniques of this ancient practice, anyone can achieve the balance and harmony so needed in their lives. Remember, however, that just one thing is not the solution to all of life’s problems. By combining yoga with the miracles of modern medicine and traditional healing remedies, the average person in today’s world will enjoy a longer, happier life.

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