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Is SodaStream A Healthy Alternative To Soda?
Soft drinks have been around since the 17th century when lemonade vendors would walk around the streets of Paris, a tank of lemon juice sweetened with honey strapped to their backs. A hundred years later, in 1767, Dr. Joseph Priestley of England first figured out how to carbonate water, and soda pop was born. Let's just say things have gone downhill since then.
Yoga Therapy: Why Doctors Are Prescribing The Ancient Practice
This type of yoga can have surprising.In 2011, Jacquelyn Jackson had the most traumatizing year of her life. On a beautiful morning in Tucson, she was just 25 feet away when her former boss, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and 18 others were shot in a grocery store parking lot. In the weeks that followed, as Jackson began suffering symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (including chronic anxiety and difficulty sleeping), she turned to a psychotherapist. The sessions helped "tremendously," she says but 11 months later, when her seemingly healthy younger brother died suddenly from a brain tumor. "the trauma was so great I felt like I needed something more."
Desperate, Jackson looked online for support and stumbled upon , an emerging treatment for people struggling with anxiety, grief, and trauma. Long practiced in India, yoga therapy was introduced in the United States some three decades ago but has begun gaining popularity only in the past five years or so. (Membership in the has quadrupled since 2004, to about 3,200, and next year the IAYT plans to begin accrediting yoga schools to offer a standardized certification program.)
"It's not just postures," says yoga therapist Janice Gates. "We use all the tools of yoga -- breath work, sound, visualization, and meditation -- and tailor them to a client's specific health condition." One of Gates's clients was a woman in her 40s who was experiencing serious depression and anxiety but couldn't tolerate psychiatric medication. While a doctor oversaw the medical issues, Gates worked with the client weekly to manage her moods. On days when she was anxious, Gates led her through exercises like standing poses and forward bends (to help her feel more grounded) and exhalation breath work (to calm her down). When the woman was depressed, she did back bends and inhalation exercises, designed to give her energy. Six months later, the woman's crippling dark moods, once a thrice-weekly occurrence, now overtake her only a few times each month. With her newfound energy -- and time -- she's teaching art classes to children.
Though research on the efficacy of yoga therapy is ongoing, traditional doctors are taking notice -- and finding it, in some cases, to be a valuable complement to the work they're already doing. "Yoga therapy can be extremely helpful for people who need a way to work through what they're experiencing, not just in their minds but in their bodies," says psychotherapist Jack Obedzinski, MD, of Corte Madera, California. "Often, it allows my patients to experience a feeling of calm in a way they couldn't in talk therapy." And, he says, this calmness can bring more clarity and awareness to their traditional sessions.
For Jackson, one-on-one yoga appointments with Amy Weintraub, a pioneer in the field and author of , proved transformative. In their first session, Jackson "was practically hyperventilating with anxiety," says Weintraub, who created a program that included "stair-step" breathing, building up to deeper and deeper breaths. "What the yoga did was provide a slow, gradual path to help her manage her moods and not immediately react when grief arose." After just a few sessions, Jackson no longer used medication to help her sleep at night. "Working with Amy was like doing emotional Roto-Rooter-ing," she says. "I had so much stress in my body, and she was able to help dislodge it -- and clear it out."
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How Yoga And Meditation Can Supercharge Your Health
With the benefits of holistic health and mindfulness practices finally starting to be recognized by across the country, it's only fitting that the first major symposium on yoga and medicine is taking place this weekend in the nation's capital.
In conjunction with the , the museum is hosting a Medical Yoga Symposium on Saturday, inviting experts in the fields of health and medicine, mindfulness and yoga therapy to discuss the transformational potential of yoga and integrative medicine.
At the Symposium, keynote speaker and HuffPost Medical Editor Dr. Dean Ornish, author, president and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and creator of the , will be presenting an overview of 36 years' worth of research on the extraordinary health benefits of yoga and other types of holistic healing.
"We tend to think of advances in medicine as something very new and high-tech and expensive, but what we've been able to show with over three decades of research is that ... lifestyle changes, which is including yoga and meditation, can not only prevent but reverse chronic diseases," Ornish tells The Huffington Post.
Yoga's many possible health benefits -- from improved cognitive function to a lower risk of diabetes -- are . have even suggested that yoga and meditation could influence gene expression, maybe even of genes associated with inflammation. This year, research also showed that lifestyle changes including improved diet, moderate exercise and less stress might actually at a cellular level.
As the research suggests, practices to reduce stress and calm the mind -- in conjunction with intimacy, community and social support -- may be as important as diet and exercising when it comes to maintaining good health, Ornish explains.
And with more and more hospitals and conventional medicine practitioners turning on to the benefits of integrative and preventative medicine, we're at a tipping point where these practices are finally being acknowledged on a large scale -- one that could have a profound impact on our health care system. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease, a holistic program which includes yoga, is now being covered by Medicaid and Medicare and is being offered at Beth Israel Medical Center, he says.
"Most people tend to think of my work as mainly diet, diet is really just one part of it," Ornish says. "What's really transformative is when people can really quiet down their minds and bodies and experience an inner sense of peace and joy and well-being, and then find ways of connecting with other people in much healthier ways."
Ornish also opened up about his personal experience of healing through yoga, which he says helped him through a bout of severe depression as a college undergraduate.
"Yoga really saved my life," he says. "I don't think I would be here doing this work if it weren't for yoga."