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Yoga Therapy and Preventative Health

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Yoga therapy has been sitting by quietly, while the mainstream population has begun to "try Yoga," but that may soon change. With the world's governments and financial markets struggling along, there will be many changes in the near future. The world's governments will have to consider the massive cost of national defense, retirement programs, education, healthcare, energy, education, and preventative health.

At this time, prevention in healthcare is a "field of dreams." As we know, some medical conditions are inherent within our specific genetic pool. However, there are many ailments, diseases, and conditions, which are preventable.

This is where healing modalities such as, Yoga therapy can become cost-effective alternatives to an over burdened medical system. Below is a question and answer session about the need for Yoga as a recognized form of therapy.

Q: What is Yoga Therapy?

A: Most of today's Yoga therapy can be traced back to Sri Swami Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who trained his share of modern masters, including his son T.K.V. Desikachar (Viniyoga) and B.K.S. Iyengar (Iyengar Yoga).

Yoga has therapeutic value and can be modified for any person. This is not the same form of Yoga movement seen in most health clubs. Yoga therapy involves teaching customized techniques, to one individual, based upon his or her specific needs.

This may encompass postures, specific breathing, meditation, and a large variety of Yogic techniques. The Yoga therapist's primary objective is to treat the whole person. Complete physical health cannot be separated from emotional and mental health.

In fact, spiritual health also plays an important factor in recovery. We know that the power of prayer, mantra, and positive affirmation, will enable a person to heal faster. There is much conflict over which specific religion a person practices. Yet, this is a private decision and, as such, should be left to the individual.

Q: Why should Yoga teachers be concerned with Yoga therapy?

A: Some teachers are content teaching athletic forms of Yoga. This is a wonderful thing, but as we, and our students, grow older, teachers become aware of a variety of ailments. Constant pain creates a need for relief, because you can think of nothing else.

If you have a migraine, or back pain, can you think of much else? The mind is totally focused on pain. Hence, there is a need for inner calm and pain relief, which therapeutic Yoga can give.

Q: What is Yoga Therapy's future role in alternative health?

A: Yoga is the source of many different healing modalities. As I have stated many times, "Yoga is the mother of all health maintenance systems." Contemporary medicine and Yoga therapy have plenty of space together on the path to heal humanity.

There is no shortage of people who are in pain. Yoga is a cost-effective form of therapy. Together, medicine and Yoga can effectively help people who are suffering from a variety of ailments.

© Copyright 2008 - Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Choosing Organic for Health

Monday, March 31, 2014

We come from a society where growing organic and just growing produce and livestock for food Was once one of the same. Small, family farms still grow their own food using traditional methods passed down through the generations. As commercial farming became big-business, however, growers and farmers started to investigate methods of increasing crops and building bigger livestock in order to increase their profits. This led to increased use of pesticides and drugs to enhance yield.

In this article, we will look at what is required in order to call a product organic, how choosing organic eating and farming impact the environment and our health, discuss the benefits of eating organic foods, and what research says about the nutritional benefits of organically-grown produce.

Calling it Organic

In 1995, the US National Organic Standards Board passed the definition of organic, which is a labeling term denoting products produced under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act. It states, "Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony."

The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals, and people.

The philosophy of organic production of livestock is to provide conditions that meet the health needs and natural behavior of the animal. Organic livestock must be given access to the outdoors, fresh air, water, sunshine, grass and pasture, and are fed 100 percent organic feed. They must not be given or fed hormones, antibiotics or other animal drugs in their feed. If an animal gets sick and needs antibiotics, they cannot be considered organic. Feeding of animal parts of any kind to ruminants that, by nature, eat a vegetarian diet, is also prohibited. Thus, no animal byproducts of any sort are incorporated in organic feed at any time.

Because farmers must keep extensive records as part of their farming and handling plans in order to be certified organic, one is always able to trace the animal from birth to market of the meat. When meat is labeled as organic, this means that 100 percent of that product is organic.

Although organic crops must be produced without the use of pesticides, it is estimated that between 10-25 percent of organic fruits and vegetables contain some residues of synthetic pesticides. This is because of the influence of rain, air and polluted water sources. In order to qualify as organic, crops must be grown on soil free of prohibited substances for three years before harvest. Until then, they cannot be called organic. When pests get out of balance and traditional organic methods do not work for pest control, farmers can request permission to use other products that are considered low risk by the National Organic Standards Board.

The Environment

According to the 15-year study, "Farming Systems Trial", organic soils have higher microbial content, making for healthier soils and plants. This study concluded that organically grown foods are raised in soils that have better physical structure, provide better drainage, may support higher microbial activity, and in years of drought, organic systems may possibly outperform conventional systems. So, organic growing may help feed more people in our future!

What is the cost of conventional farming, today? The above-mentioned 15 -year study showed that conventional farming uses 50 percent more energy than organic farming. In one report, it was estimated that only 0.1 percent of applied pesticides actually reach the targets, leaving most of the pesticide, 99.9 percent, to impact the environment. Multiple investigations have shown that our water supplies, both in rivers and area tap waters, are showing high levels of pesticides and antibiotics used in farming practices. Water samples taken from the Ohio River as well as area tap water contained trace amounts of penicillin, tetracycline and vancomycin.

Toxic chemicals are contaminating groundwater on every inhabited continent, endangering the world's most valuable supplies of freshwater, according to a Worldwatch paper, Deep Trouble: The Hidden Threat of Groundwater Pollution. Calling for a systemic overhaul of manufacturing and industrial agriculture, the paper notes that several water utilities in Germany now pay farmers to switch to organic operations because this costs less than removing farm chemicals from water supplies.

What About our Health?

Eating organic food is not a fad. As people become more informed and aware, they are taking steps to ensure their health. US sales of organic food totaled 5.4 billion dollars in 1998, but was up to 7.8 billion dollars in the year 2000. The 2004 Whole Foods Market Organic Foods Trend Tracker survey found that 27 oercent of Americans are eating more organic foods than they did a year ago.

A study conducted by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation reports that the number of people poisoned by drifting pesticides increased by 20 percent during 2000.

A rise in interest and concern for the use of pesticides in food resulted in the passage of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act, directing the US EPA to reassess the usage and impact of pesticides for food use.

Particular attention was paid to the impact on children and infants, whose lower body weights and higher consumption of food per body weight present higher exposure to any risks associated with pesticide residues.

Publishing an update to its 1999 report on food safety, the Consumers Union in May 2000 reiterated that pesticide residues in foods children eat every day often exceed safe levels. The update found high levels of pesticide residues on winter squash, peaches, apples, grapes, pears, green beans, spinach, strawberries, and cantaloupe. The Consumers Union urged consumers to consider buying organically grown varieties, particularly of these fruits and vegetables.

The most common class of pesticide in the US is organophosphates (OPs). These are known as neurotoxins.

An article published in 2002 examined the urine concentration of OP residues in 2-5 year olds. Researchers found, on average, that children eating conventionally grown food showed an 8.5 times higher amount of OP residue in their urine than those eating organic food. Studies have also shown harmful effects on fetal growth, as well.

Pesticides are not the only threat, however. 70 percent of all antibiotics in the US are used to fatten up livestock, today. Farm animals receive 24.6 million pounds of antibiotics per year!

Public health authorities now link low-level antibiotic use in livestock to greater numbers of people contracting infections that resist treatment with the same drugs. The American Medical Association adopted a resolution in June of 2001, opposing the use of sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics in agriculture and the World Health Organization, in its 2001 report, urged farmers to stop using antibiotics for growth promotion. Studies are finding the same antibiotic resistant bacteria in the intestines of consumers that develop in commercial meats and poultry.

Is it More Nutritious?

Until recently, there had been little evidence that organically grown produce was higher in nutrients. It's long been held that healthier soils would produce a product higher in nutritional quality, but there was never the science to support this belief. Everyone agrees that organic foods taste better.

In 2001, nutrition specialist Virginia Worthington published her review of 41 published studies comparing the nutritional values of organic and conventionally grown fruits, vegetables and grains. What she found was that organically grown crops provided 17 percent more vitamin C, 21 percent more iron, 29 percent more magnesium, and 13.6 percent more phosphorus than conventionally grown products. She noted that five servings of organic vegetables provided the recommended daily intake of vitamin C for men and women, while their conventional counterparts did not. Today there are more studies that show the same results that Ms. Worthington concluded.

Considering the health benefits of eating organic foods, along with the knowledge of how conventionally grown and raised food is impacting the planet should be enough to consider paying greater attention to eating organic, today. Since most people buy their food in local supermarkets, it's good news that more and more markets are providing natural and organic foods in their stores. Findings from a survey by Supermarket News showed that 61 percent of consumers now buy their organic foods in supermarkets. More communities and health agencies also are working to set up more farmer's markets for their communities, also, which brings more organic, locally grown foods to the consumer. The next time you go shopping, consider investigating organic choices to see if it's indeed worth the change!

Massage Therapy And Its Benefits

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Massage therapy is by far one of the oldest types of therapies used. Research has proven it was practiced in the Far and Middle East for at least 5000 years. Additional research also suggests that massage therapy has long been practiced in Egypt, China, Greece and Rome. It is known for its numerous benefits to the body as well as to the spirit.

Massage is a therapeutic technique that involves manipulation of the soft tissues of the body. It is the calming, therapeutic process of kneading, stroking, and pressing the different areas of the body. It is used to alleviate pain, relieve stress, tension, or to relax, stimulate, and tone the body.

Massage is more than being an excellent tool for calming and relaxing the body. I am emphasizing that it is not just practiced for feeling good anymore. Research has indicated that it does much more than create a pleasant sensation on the skin.

One of the major benefits is that this therapy works on the soft tissues of the body; such as muscles, tendons and ligaments. It even enhances the muscle tone. Although it does bring a great relief to the muscle under the skin, the benefits that this practice can offer may even affect the deeper layers of the muscles and the body organs themselves.

The therapy is further described as a holistic approach that alleviates blood pressure, heart rate, and increases the lymph flow and blood circulation. One report that has been published describes what massage can do in the systems of the body.

Another report indicates that massage works to aid the lymphatic system, which runs parallel to the circulatory system. This is what actually makes massage a great tool for enhancing the elimination of waste or unnecessary elements throughout the body.

Along with these benefits, massage therapy boosts the range of motions, and even increases the endorphins, which are the natural painkillers of the body.

Listed below are a few of the benefits of massage therapy:

* Soothes and relaxes the body

* Alleviate pain, tension and stiffness

* Improves breathing

* Improves circulation of the blood

* Heals the mind and body

* Improves sense of well-being

Given the information of the benefits of massage, it's no wonder that today the traditional health care systems all over the world have considered massage therapy as one very important and effective technique for treating illnesses.

Additionally, more and more people are also using services of licensed massage therapists these days. In fact, according to some surveys, most consumers spend about $2 billion to $4 billion annually just for massage therapy.

There is concrete evidence to show that massage therapy is gradually becoming a mainstream therapeutic practice. And, with an ever growing research on the much deeper beneficial effects of massage, thousands of health care professionals today are highly recommending patients include massage therapy in their health care plans.

 

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