Everyone is in love with yoga lately. From Bikram yoga to sponsored public park variations, many affluent Americans are reaping the health benefits of yoga. The ancient practice has been lauded by many in the West as compliment to the highly stressful American work weeks in particular.
As studies illuminate the human health disasters caused by stress, there is new evidence that suggests yoga is one of the best medicines to counteract this “silent killer.”
Many of the effects of stress are due to increased sympathetic nervous system activity, and an outpouring of adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress-related hormones. Consequently, the common manifestations of stress are depression, heart disease, epilepsy, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
But there is help on the horizon if we take heed of it. According to a study published in Medical Hypotheses, yoga tremendously helps patients suffering from any of the aforementioned stress-related dis-eases. Not only does yoga help, but it balances your body, bringing you back to the desired homeostasis.
Most revealing, patients who exhibited low levels gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA) or with decreased parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) responded to pharmacologic agents that increase activity of the GABA system, and show symptom improvement in response to yoga-based interventions.
According to the report, this has far-reaching implications for the integration of yoga-based practices in the treatment of a broad array of disorders exacerbated by stress.
As mentioned earlier, yoga seems to have taken over certain sectors of society while in others — particularly low-income, and/or black and Hispanic communities — yoga is still inauspiciously foreign and absent. Many people point to the lack of yoga studios in minority communities, the expensive classes, or somewhat segregated culture of Western yoga studios.
If you look at the map of Atlanta, you may notice the high concentration of yoga studios is in the North, Northeast, Midtown, and Downtown areas — all areas where you will find blacks and Hispanics, but primarily affluent whites. There a gaping absence of studios in the primarily black communities in West, Southwest, and Southeastern parts of the metro area, irrespective of income.
And I’m not trying to denigrate the Atlanta yoga scene for its not the only city that “obliviously” segregates yoga. Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago all have somehow isolated yoga from its minority communities. And when one studio opens up in a minority community, because of the lack of awareness and knowledge of yoga, it’s hard to get the residents enthusiastic beyond a free seminar.
Considering that PTSD affects African-American at a rate far higher than any other non-war related group, and considering these proven positive effects of yoga, there needs to be a full-force education-based initiative to make yoga accessible and affordable in minority communities, as soon as possible.
Where do you go to practice yoga? Let your fellow readers know where they can find a yogi in the community!