Yoga and Restless Leg Syndrome
By Faye Martins
Restless leg syndrome is a disorder that causes uncomfortable, urgent feelings in the body. It is considered a neurological sleep disorder. Those with restless leg syndrome can have a variety of symptoms including an insatiable need to move or shake the legs, a crawling sensation, or a tickling or itching feeling. Many people with restless leg syndrome also experience twitching or jerking of the limbs during sleep. Sensations are not limited to the legs, and may affect the arms or even limbs that have been amputated. The cause of restless leg syndrome is uncertain, but in some cases, there may be a connection to iron levels in the blood. Certain medications have been shown to cause or contribute to restless leg syndrome, as well.
Solutions for Flare Ups
At this time, there is no known cure for restless leg syndrome. The most common treatments include a daily light exercise routine, cutting out caffeine and other stimulants, and establishing a more restful sleep environment. In addition to yogic practices being used as daily exercise, particular asanas can help relieve the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. End of day yoga and meditation routines can help the sufferer create a stable evening and relaxed mind for bedtime.
Virasana, or Hero’s pose, is excellent for helping with symptoms of restless leg syndrome. Since there are numerous modifications, it is accessible for the new practitioner and the seasoned yoga student alike. If it is inaccessible for the buttocks to rest on the floor, the practitioner can sit on a bolster, pillow, or folded blankets. The prop you choose can slide between your legs and rest under your pelvis. Knee pain can also be addressed with a towel behind the knee or by bringing the practitioner’s pelvis up higher off the ground with a bolster as mentioned before. The pose can be held during meditation, or as the practitioner watches television in the evening.
Legs up the Wall pose is good for aiding circulation within the legs. The pose should be held for five to twenty minutes, depending on the ease of the pose for the practitioner. If there is discomfort in the back, a bolster or blanket can be placed under the small of the back. The legs can be held at a right angle to the body or can be moved into butterfly with the feet touching and the knees folded out and away from the centerline. These yoga asanas can also be helpful as a morning practice, to help prepare the body for a healthy day.
Although I have covered less than a handful of asanas, any yoga posture that releases nervous energy from the legs is suitable. Asanas like Standing Forward Bend, Downward Dog, and Goddess Pose release tension and nervous energy from the body. If energy is constructively released from the body, it should improve your odds for less restless leg syndrome flare ups and a healthy sleep session.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Yoga Training for Healthy Joints
When you are young, you might be lucky enough to live without joint pain. You might not understand why skeletal health is such a big part of a yoga teacher training course. Anyone who has suffered joint pain knows what an important role the joints play in overall body function and a healthy, happy lifestyle. When the joints are uncared for, the pain can make it unbearable to accomplish everyday tasks. Whether you currently suffer from joint pain in the form of things like arthritis and other rheumatic conditions, or you don’t suffer at all, yoga is great for prevention, reduction or elimination of pain.
A joint is the connection between two bones that allows the body to move freely in several manners. Our bodies are amazing structures that bend and twist in ways that over time we may not be appreciative of, until it is too late. That is why exercise is so important; we need to keep our bodies in a physical state that allows for a good quality of life.
Yoga has proven to be a key element in keeping ourselves fit, and functional. Not only does it increase flexibility, improve joint health, and keep us a healthy weight; it supports a healthy mental being as well. Yoga training is an exercise choice that is gentle on the joints, and increases the heart rate in order to reduce any possible swelling. It also builds muscle through poses being held for some time. Strong muscles support the joints and relieve extra pressure on them.
There are many asanas that target the joints of the body, and anything therapeutic will help reduce pain. Some of the more well known Yoga exercises for joints are listed below.
• Forward Fold – This simple pose does so much. It releases tension in the back, legs, arms, and neck. Gently nod and turn the head right to left in the pose, and stretch the arms behind the back with the fingers interlaced for an added benefit.
• Sun Salutation – This sequence of poses is perfect for an allover joint benefit. There’s a reason it is often used as the very first sequence of a routine. It is best for the lower back and calves, though it can be strain on ankles and wrists.
• Warrior Poses – Work the hips by opening and stretching them. Incorporate a triangle pose for a flow of postures, and work the back and arms as well.
Tips for Students
Just thirty minutes of a slow and gentle style of yoga such as restorative, 3-4 times a week will alleviate joint pain, or keep the joints in tip-top shape. It is a small commitment for a huge benefit! Any person who has joint pain should research potential yoga schools carefully to find an instructor with specific knowledge of therapeutic practices to reduce pain. Look for yoga therapy or restorative sessions taught by a certified yoga teacher or therapist.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
The Special Bonds in Chair Yoga Classes
By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
“We can never get a re-creation of community and heal our society without giving our citizens a sense of belonging.” -Patch Adams
Chair Yoga classes create special bonds for practitioners. From birth to old age, the desire to be accepted is an overwhelming prerequisite for happiness. For people who suffer from chronic illnesses or disabilities, however, the difficulty of participating in social or physical activities often hampers their ability to establish bonds or to feel like part of a community. This complicates already existing limitations and frequently leads to additional physical and emotional barriers.
Chair Yoga is a relatively new Hatha-based Yogic venture, designed to make classes more accessible to people who would otherwise be unable to participate in physical Yoga or other exercises. Using adaptations of traditional poses – combined with chairs for seating or support – participants can enjoy the benefits of mental and physical activity, while experiencing the joy of being part of a group. Since Chair Yoga is often taught in community, senior, or medical centers, classes offer members an opportunity to meet and share stories with people who have similar challenges.
Although Chair Yoga provides many of the same benefits as traditional Hatha Yoga, it also has the potential to create emotional bonds that improve the quality of life and health of its participants.
Special Social Benefits of Attending Chair Yoga Classes
• Researchers have found that people are generally happier when they are around other like-minded people.
• People who feel connected to others are healthier both physically and mentally. They also recover from illnesses and injuries more quickly.
• People benefit when they are able to share their stories with other people who understand and cope with similar issues. They also learn from the diversity of opinions and coping mechanisms.
• Studies have shown that happiness is contagious and that it has a lasting, positive effect on the lives of others, as well. Improved moods will improve the quality of life outside the classroom.
• Participants often celebrate successes together and support each other during difficult times.
• It is much easier to have fun and become motivated with other people who share a common interest.
• There is security in knowing that classes are led by well-trained Chair Yoga instructors.
• Participants feel better, which results in the cultivation of better states of mind and relationships.
The old saying that “a problem shared is a problem halved” may be especially true when it comes to the special bonds in Chair Yoga class.