beYogi was joined by Ann Swanson from Ann Swanson Wellness. We explored the science of yoga + Ann answers our viewers questions live!
The 8 Limbs of Yoga. It is important to adapt the yogic lifestyle to whatever works best for you. What we can’t forget no matter what is living your life in moderation (diet, exercising, minimizing alcohol, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy body overall). So the yogic lifestyle really does align with what research has shown is a healthy lifestyle.
Overall, yoga helps us to build this new capacity called Interoception. Basically it is your ability to listen to the signals of your body. (mindfulness) Interoception -> better lifestyle choices.
Yoga gives us tools we can use to induce the relaxation response. When a stressor comes about, you can use yogic breathing to help alleviate the increase in stress. When you elongate your exhales there is a little vibration in the back of your throat which sends signals to your brain telling it that you are safe. Then your brain sends signals down the Vagus nerve which leads to your heart and communicates that you are safe. This happens with every exhale you take.
Make sure you are breathing with your nose… Are you breathing with your nose right now? Remember to check in with yourself.
If the air goes up the nose there are extra pathways and natural filters that the air goes through. This process allows our nose to catch bad germs & pollution and also slow it down, dehumidify it, and prep it for the lungs, which the mouth cannot do.
Do a Neti! For a detailed instructions go to minute 44 in the webinar video.
We are social creatures as humans. Right now, the normal things we would do to be social are being cancelled, so it is important to find ways we can fill in the gaps. Small things can help like calling family members or friends to check in more often.
I have been trying to be flexible, but I don’t know how, what should I do to start enhancing my flexibility?
It depends on where you are tight. We tend to all be tight along the backsides of our bodies, so in your daily routine add some stretches in that focus on your neck, back, and back of the legs. A dynamic well rounded yoga practice will include all of these things: backbends, forward bends, twists, and side bends.
How long should we do inversions to help with your immunity?
It depends on the person and their capacity. It also depends on the inversion. For example, if you have high blood pressure and move into a headstand it may make you feel dizzy and may make your heart work harder than needed. Try legs up the wall pose. Refer to video around minute 27.
During high intensity workouts for example running, is it better to close the mouth and breath through nose instead?
Try to breathe through your nose as much as possible. Your mouth is a backup system, so when you absolutely need to breathe through your mouth that is okay but understand that it is not filtering the air and it is not as efficient. Try inhaling through the nose and exhaling through your mouth when needed.
How does social support improve immunity?
When we have social support you are releasing endorphins, the feel good hormones. A big part of our immune system is balancing our neurochemistry as well as managing stress. You feel better when you connect with someone rather than if you are alone. In times when you are alone remind yourself that everyone is in this together.
Ann is a certified yoga therapist and author of Science of Yoga which is being translated to over 15 languages. She specializes in teaching accessible yoga and tai chi for arthritis and chronic pain, including in her telehealth practice. (Note: she was doing Zoom session for years before it became the thing to do recently due to lockdown.) With a Master of Science in yoga therapy and roots studying yoga in India and qi gong in China, Ann uniquely applies cutting-edge research to mind-body practices while striving to maintain the heart of the traditions. She loves speaking and writing about how yoga practices can transform health and wellbeing–based on the science.