Yoga and COPD July 2, 2012

Chances are that you know at least one person that suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Decease (COPD).  Roughly 12 million Americans suffer from COPD.  COPD, either through chronic bronchitis or emphysema, impacts a person’s ability to breath.   This of course can have a profound impact on the quality of someone’s life.

I know because my mother has COPD.  Back in the 1980’s she quit smoking cold turkey.  Unfortunately, nearly 25 years later, she was diagnosed with COPD.  Based on my observations of her battle with COPD over the last 7 years, living with COPD is complicated and can result in a dangerous downward spiral of health.  Difficulty breathing and ongoing bouts with bronchitis limits your ability to exercise which often results in weight gain which further exasperates the issues with breathing.  You can see how COPD can impact both your quality of life and independence.  The true danger in this is the feeling of losing control of your health that then leads to loss of hope.  While this is not a disease that is limited to seniors, COPD is especially tough on seniors, because it can multiply the impacts of our natural reduction of physical ability that comes with age.

What does this have to do with yoga you might ask?  One of the challenges for people with COPD is finding a way to stay physically active or regain the ability to be physically active.  Exercise to build or maintain lung capacity as well as to maintain a healthy weight is very important in limiting the impact of COPD on those that have it and to maximize quality of life.  The first images that pop into your mind of people doing yoga may lead you to believe that yoga is not the answer, but actually yoga is an excellent option for people of all ages and physical conditions that suffer from COPD including seniors.

Why is yoga a great option for those that suffer from COPD?

  1. Yoga is all about breathing – The power of breath and breathing is a core principle in yoga.  In the treatment of COPD patients are taught how to breathe correctly.  Yoga teaches you to control and use your breath as well as helps build lung capacity.
  1. Yoga is all about movement – Yoga teaches you to couple breathing and movement.  Since movement equals exercise, it is a great way to build your physical capabilities.  It makes a great addition to your current exercise program and is the perfect way to get started again if you have not been exercising.
  1. Yoga is all about meeting yourself where you are – Many think yoga is only for the young and already fit.  Yoga, more than any other form of exercise, has the ability to meet you where you are no matter your physical capability or age.  You can start in Chair Yoga and build from there.  I would argue that yoga is the best single physical activity people with COPD can undertake.
  1. Yoga at YouYoga is all about community – When you are trying to overcome any challenge, it is always better to have support doing so.  At YouYoga we have built a community of likeminded people studying yoga for many reasons, but all wanting to do so in an inviting, safe, non-judgmental, supportive environment.

If you suffer from COPD or know someone who does, I encourage you to consider yoga as a way to minimize its impacts, improve your quality of life and to preserve your independence.


4 Ways To Increase Your Balance: Part 3 October 27, 2011

If you’ve been practicing Wall Sit from Part 2 of 4 Ways to Increase Your Balance I feel confident that you’ve found your thighs.  The burn means your waking up those muscles, and making them stronger.  Now let us take that energy to the core.  Building a strong core is the 3rd step for increasing your ability to balance.  A strong core will also help to minimize lower back pain.  Often when we think of building strength in the core we find ourselves on the floor performing those dreaded sit-ups…….it can be a challenge for most people to even get to the floor. So, grab a stable chair and we are going to work that tummy from a seated position.  Let’s get to work!


Core Exercise: Seated Crunch

Begin seated in your chair.  Move forward bringing your sitting bones to the edge of the chair.  The feet face forward, while the legs make a 90 degree angle by stacking knee over ankle.  Draw the bellybutton to the spine, as you move your shoulders over hips.  Feel your feet rooted deeply on the ground, and feel the muscles of the legs draw up on the bones.
Take a nice inhale as you raise your arms straight up towards the sky.  Interlace your fingers, and place the hands at the base of your skull where the head and neck meet.  Elbows are wide and out to the sides.  Allow the neck to feel long, while the shoulders melt away from the ears.
Take another nice inhale, and feel you ribs move away from your waist……feel a big stretch in the side-body.  As you exhale, draw the chin towards the heart, the belly towards the spine and the tailbone draws up……imagine it moving forward between the legs.  Inhale while moving back to the starting position.  If you want to increase  your awareness of lower body’s form you can place a yoga block, or small ball between the upper thighs. 
You’ve just completed a seated crunch.  Bring your energy into the core and feel yourself working, building strength. Repeat this action 10 times.  As you build strength try to perform 3-5 sets of 10.  Remember you’re building the blocks to better balance one step at a time.  Stay consistent, stay patient, and be supportive of yourself……..No Negative Thoughts!!!  Keep working, and stayed tuned for part 4!
To Read Part 1 Click Here
To Read Part 2 Click Here