Technology has brought us some wondrous innovations and created jobs that we can now work without having to put in any strenuous physical exertion. This is definitely a boon to our current and future generations, but it comes with a price. Physical work can lead to sore muscles, back, and neck pain. Sitting all day puts a different type of strain on the body.
A body in motion stays in motion. A body at rest tends to settle and stiffen. If you sit at a desk all day staring at a computer screen as so many of us do these days, you’re putting a strain on your musculoskeletal system. Have you experienced lower back stiffness when you stand at the end of the day? That stiffness will turn to pain at some point.
Recent Studies suggest Yoga may be the Solution
Dr. Sharon Kolasincki, a professor and rheumatologist at the University of Pennsylvania, recently conducted a study of yoga on knee osteoarthritis patients. Her test subjects were asked to take ninety-minute Iyengar yoga classes once a week for eight weeks. The results showed both pain reduction and increased physical functions for all test subjects.
A similar study was conducted at UCLA Medical Center by Dr. Subhadra Evans. Her test subjects were rheumatoid arthritis patients and the effects were immediate and positive. After just six weeks, Dr. Evans reported that she was surprised by how strong the results were. In some instances, the pain hadn’t actually gone away, but patients reported that their energy levels were up, and they were better able to get through their day to day activities.
Understanding Yoga: Mind, Body, and Spiritual Benefits
Yoga is an ancient Hindu discipline that focuses on breath control, meditation, and body postures. It’s traditionally practiced in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, but has enjoyed an ever-growing popularity in mainstream society since the 1960’s. The objective is to free the mind of stress, relax the body, and improve your spiritual condition.
There are eight major styles of Yoga, including Iyengar Yoga, which was the style used in both studies reference above. Iyengar is a very meticulous style and is most often recommended in cases of injury or chronic pain. An Iyengar instructor has to go through extensive training so they can recognize which postures will be best for your condition.
The other major styles of Yoga are Anusar, Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Hot Yoga, Restorative, and Vinyasa. Gaiam, a popular provider of Yoga accessories and instruction resources, explains what each of these are in their articles titled, ”Beginner’s Guide to Eight Major Styles of Yoga.” There are also numerous books and videos available on Amazon if you want to learn more.
Are you suffering from a “Sitting Disease?”
The term “sitting disease” has been universally adopted by doctors in the 21st Century to describe aches and ailments associated with sitting at a desk for a living. The average person sits for more than twelve hours every day and physical inactivity is directly or indirectly responsible for 3.2 million deaths per year. It’s the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality.
This crisis is not limited to just “desk jockeys” either. Think about the technological advances of the past hundred years. How much time do we spend driving in our cars or watching television? Sitting disease isn’t limited to computer geeks and gamers. We all tend to be more sedentary than our ancestors of three or four generations past.
Yoga is a solution for keeping joints and muscles loose, and it’s a good one, but adding in some low impact daily exercise will help also. The human body is designed to move. The more you move it, the healthier and more energetic you’ll be.
The Benefits of Simply Standing Up
If you feel you’re falling into the trap of becoming too sedentary in your lifestyle, I have a simple solution for you: Stand up. Modern day companies often provide standing and even walking desks for their employees. Numerous studies have shown that this improves the health and morale of a 21st Century work force. It can help you too.
Standing and moving around more can help lower your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, even cancer. Standing for fifty percent of your work day will increase your energy and lower stress levels. Add a regular standing routine to a weekly Yoga class and you’ll find that all those aches and pains will disappear, and you’ll just feel healthier.