Therapeutic Yoga

There are three types of stress that wreak havoc on our bodies: Physical, chemical and emotional. How does yoga actually work in reducing the effects of these stresses?

Although the method of each type of stress varies greatly, the impact on the body’s chemistry is the same. A physical injury, chemical reaction to food or drug, and emotional challenge all cause chemical changes within the body as it strives to repair damaged structures and return to balance. When the body is under constant stress (any of the three types), our immune response can become overworked, confused, and ineffective.

Your body has a way of maintaining balance under normal circumstances, and excessive stress can upset the controls of this balance resulting in pain, digestive issues, mood swings, fatigue etc.
Yoga, believe it or not, is actually stressful for the body – in a good way. We’ve all heard of good stress but what exactly does that mean?

Yoga challenges both the body and the mind by putting you in uncomfortable body positions, stimulating mental activity that can show up as elation, frustration, curiosity and maybe even provoke feelings of sadness or anger. While this emotional event is taking place, your body is responding by releasing a flood of hormones and chemicals that are part of the fight or flight response. The goal is to restore balance to our body’s physical, emotional and chemical state. For most of us, the fight or flight response can not discriminate between a real threat or a perceived one, and our body responds too strongly to small stimulus which eventually leads to burnout.

In a yoga class when you are holding a long pose and your muscles begin to shake and burn, your heart rate increases and you might even begin to panic (while your brain screams profanity at the instructor). This intentionally induces a stress response in a controlled environment and you are actually learning on a cellular level, that the stress and panic are not life threatening. Over time, your nervous system learns to discern the difference between major and minor stress and deploys the appropriate response. It’s no secret that those who practice yoga regularly are less affected by the small stresses, and the reason is in your body’s chemical response. Yoga retrains your response to stress.

Some of the wonderful side-effects of yoga include increased strength & flexibility, decreased physical and emotional pain, a stronger immune system and a more balanced nervous system.

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Christine Anderson RMT:
Supported by two decades of yoga experience, coupled with an extensive knowledge of functional anatomy and movement mechanics, I have created this two-part yoga series aimed at giving you the tools to put an end to common body complaints related to office work.

Classes at Algonquin College. Register in person at the Fitness Zone A125 (613-727-4723 x7294

Part One: Stress, Upper Back & Neck (Thursday’s from 11:45am to 12:45pm) May 3, 10, 17, 24
$80+HST Register at the Fitness Zone
A-125 ext. 7294
No experience (or gym membership) required.

Part Two: Stress, Lower Back, Hips & Legs (Every Thursday in June from 11:45 to 12:45pm) $80 +HST
No experience (or gym membership) required.

Included with each four week series are four short practices you can take home. You will leave with the knowledge of where to focus your strength and where to gently stretch, enhancing any yoga class you attend.

Is it normal to be sore after a massage?

Even though you are passive during a massage, the muscles are being stimulated in a way that is similar to a workout; cycling through a repeating pattern of stretch-contract. This creates micro tears in the muscle, increases blood flow and eventually results in inflammation. The inflammation is what causes the soreness and is also what promotes healing. So, yes it is completely normal to feel some soreness following a massage.

Just as soreness lessens as you become more efficient with a specific exercise, soreness also decreases with repeated massage; the body builds a tolerance to the level of intensity. Increase the intensity, and the sensation will follow suit.

This does NOT mean “no pain, no gain”. While there is a certain level of soreness that is therapeutic, not all post massage pain is good. There are situations where there is already an ample supply of inflammation around an injured area and aggressive massage can slow down or even reverse the body’s natural healing.

The harder your knots are, the more time we need to knead them out. It’s a bit like buttering fresh bread… You cannot spread cold, hard butter over the bread in a hurry without destroying the bread. You have to let the butter warm up and soften in order to get a good result. A little skill and patience can go a long way!

A recent tightness may be well addressed in 60 minutes, where an old pain may take several consecutive visits (and some home exercises) to see results.