By James E. Groves, MD
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Are you looking for a new health practice to enhance your day-to-day routines? Have you been interested in trying out yoga, but are too intimidated by the seemingly fancy and challenging poses? The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga is your guide to the true healing heart of yoga, sharing the techniques that Marlynn Wei and James Groves have used to tremendous success with their clients. In this simple, science-based eight-week program, you’ll learn about the countless benefits of this proven practice, including:
- Increased flexibility and balance
- Greater muscle and bone strength
- Improved sleep
- Better stress management and resilience
- Strengthened immune system
- Enriched brain health
- And much more!
Complete with illustrations, dozens of yoga breathing and meditation techniques, adaptable sequences, and principles of yoga safety, The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga will guide you to health and wellness.
While the authors of this book have taken great care in presenting the material you will find in this book, the book is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. The medical information is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. If you have any health concerns or conditions that warrant special attention, please seek the advice of a health professional before beginning a yoga practice or attempting any of the practices or poses described in this book. If you experience pain or other side effects when trying the poses presented here, please seek appropriate medical attention.
Cautions on Rapid or Forceful Yoga Breathing
For beginners, rapid and forceful breathing exercises, such as the Breath of Fire (see here), should be done only with the guidance and supervision of a certified yoga teacher. Rigorous, forceful breathing should also be avoided during pregnancy. People with medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, such respiratory issues as asthma, seizure disorders, panic or anxiety disorders, or bipolar disorder should check with their doctor first before doing such yoga breathing because it can lead to high blood pressure and hyperventilation, which can then trigger such medical issues as seizures, panic attacks, or asthma episodes.
It's important to remember that yoga breathing exercises should never be painful. If you experience sudden pain or difficulty breathing during or after intense yoga breathing, you should stop immediately and seek medical attention. The risk of yoga breathing is unclear since it is not yet studied on a large scale, so it's important to discuss it with your own doctor before trying these techniques.
Cautions on Hot Yoga
Hot yoga is a version of yoga done in a heated and humidified room. Since overheating can occur around 104 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and some forms of hot yoga have been shown to raise the core body temperature to 103 to 104 degrees, we recommend that heated yoga should be done with caution. Hot yoga has a greater risk of musculoskeletal injury because of the increased laxity of ligaments and tendons in heated conditions, so people may unknowingly overstretch their muscles or joints. Pregnant women should be cautious of hot yoga, given the risk of overheating and dehydration to both mother-to-be and baby, and should speak with their doctor first. If you have any medical conditions, speak to your doctor first to determine whether hot yoga is safe for you.
Historical Frameworks of Yoga
|Figure 2.1||Eight Paths of Yoga|
|Table 2.1||The Chakra System|
|Figure 2.2||Chakras and Nerve Plexuses|
|Figure 2.3||Yin and Yang Principles|
|Table 2.2||Traditional Chinese Medicine Meridian System|
|Table 1.1||Traditions and Styles of Yoga Common in the United States|
|Table 5.1||Yoga Safety Guidelines|
|Table 7.1||Core Principles of Yoga Poses|
|Figure 6.1||Easy Pose for Breathing Exercises|
|Figure 6.2||Hero Pose modified with Block for Breathing Exercises|
|Figure 6.3||Alternate Nostril Breath (front view)|
|Figure 6.4||Alternate Nostril Breath (side view)|
|Figure 6.5||Lion's Breath|
|Figure 6.6||Tongue Hissing Breath|
|Table 6.1||Parts of the Breath|
|Table 6.2||Yoga Breathing (Pranayama) Techniques|
|Table 6.3||Simple Breath Awareness|
|Table 6.4||Three-Part Breath|
|Table 6.5||Rhythmic (Savitri) or Ratio (Vrtti) Breathing Exercises|
|Table 6.6||Victorious (Ocean) Breath (Ujjayi)|
|Table 6.7||Humming Bee Breath (Bhramari)|
|Table 6.8||Alternate Nostril Breath (Nadi shodhana)|
|Table 6.9||Left Nostril Breath (Chandra Nadi)|
|Table 6.10||Lion's Breath (Simhasana)|
|Table 6.11||Tongue Hissing Breath (Sitali)|
|Table 6.12||Teeth Hissing Breath (Sitkari)|
|Table 6.13||Breath of Fire (Kapalabhati)|
|Table 6.14||Bellows Breath (Bhastrika)|
|Figure 7.1||Easy Pose|
|Figure 7.2||Hero Pose|
|Figure 7.3||Child's Pose|
|Figure 7.4||Child's Pose Arms Back|
|Figure 7.5||Puppy Pose|
|Figure 7.6||Mountain Pose|
|Figure 7.10||Thread the Needle|
|Figure 7.11||Upward Salute|
|Figure 7.12||Sidebending Mountain Pose|
|Figure 7.13||Downward Facing Dog Pose|
|Figure 7.14||Half Dog against the wall|
|Figure 7.15||Dolphin Pose|
|Figure 7.16||High Plank|
|Figure 7.17||Low Plank|
|Figure 7.18||Low Plank Pose modification with knees down|
|Figure 7.19||Standing Forward Bend|
|Figure 7.20||Standing Forward Bend Ragdoll variation|
|Figure 7.21||Standing Forward Bend Ragdoll variation with knees bent|
|Figure 7.22||Standing Forward Bend variation with shoulder stretch|
|Figure 7.23||Standing Half Forward Bend|
|Figure 7.24||Standing Half Forward Bend modification with hands supported on shins|
|Figure 7.25||Standing Half Forward Bend modification with hands supported on blocks|
|Figure 7.26||Big Toe Pose|
|Figure 7.27||Wide-Legged Forward Bend|
|Figure 7.28||Wide-Legged Forward Bend modification with blocks|
|Figure 7.29||Wide-Legged Forward Bend modification with shoulder stretch|
|Figure 7.30||Pyramid Pose|
|Figure 7.31||Pyramid Pose modification with blocks|
|Figure 7.32||Fierce Pose|
|Figure 7.33||Warrior I Pose|
|Figure 7.34||Warrior II Pose|
|Figure 7.35||Reverse Warrior Pose|
|Figure 7.36||Low Lunge Pose|
|Figure 7.37||Runner's Lunge Pose|
|Figure 7.38||Runner's Lunge Pose modification with blocks|
|Figure 7.39||High Lunge Pose|
|Figure 7.40||Extended Side Angle Pose (Supported)|
|Figure 7.41||Extended Side Angle modification with block|
|Figure 7.42||Extended Triangle Pose|
|Figure 7.43||Extended Triangle Pose modification with block|
|Figure 7.44||Revolved Fierce Pose|
|Figure 7.45||Revolved High Lunge Pose|
|Figure 7.46||Revolved Low Lunge Pose|
|Figure 7.47||Revolved Lunge modification|
|Figure 7.48||Revolved Triangle|
|Figure 7.49||Revolved Triangle modification with block|
|Figure 7.50||Seated Spinal Twist|
|Figure 7.51||Seated Spinal Twist modification with lower leg straight|
|Figure 7.52||Warrior III Pose|
|Figure 7.53||Supported Warrior III Pose|
|Figure 7.54||Half Moon Pose|
|Figure 7.55||Half Moon modification with block|
|Figure 7.56||Tree Pose|
|Figure 7.57||Tree Pose with modified kickstand|
|Figure 7.58||Eagle Pose|
|Figure 7.59||Side Plank Pose|
|Figure 7.60||Side Plank Pose modification with knee down|
|Figure 7.61||Side Plank Pose modification with foot down|
|Figure 7.62||Crocodile Pose|
|Figure 7.63||Cobra Pose|
|Figure 7.64||Baby Cobra Pose: gentler version of Cobra Pose|
|Figure 7.65||Upward Facing Dog|
|Figure 7.66||Locust Pose|
|Figure 7.67||Bow Pose|
|Figure 7.68||Camel Pose|
|Figure 7.69||Gentle Camel Pose|
|Figure 7.70||Reverse Tabletop|
|Figure 7.71||Fish Pose|
|Figure 7.72||Supported Fish Pose|
|Figure 7.73||Bridge Pose|
|Figure 7.74||Supported Bridge Pose|
|Figure 7.75||Yogi Squat|
|Figure 7.76||Goddess Pose|
|Figure 7.77||Bound Angle Pose|
|Figure 7.78||Reclining Bound Angle Pose|
|Figure 7.79||Lizard Pose|
|Figure 7.80||Lizard Pose: deeper stretch with forearms down|
|Figure 7.81||Reclining Pigeon or Figure Four Pose on your back|
|Figure 7.82||Half Pigeon with torso upright|
|Figure 7.83||Sleeping Half Pigeon|
|Figure 7.84||Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose|
|Figure 7.85||Staff Pose|
|Figure 7.86||Seated Forward Bend|
|Figure 7.87||Forward Bend modification: seated on block with strap|
|Figure 7.88||Seated Head to Knee Pose|
|Figure 7.89||Head to Knee Pose modification: seated on block with strap|
|Figure 7.90||Knee to Chest Pose|
|Figure 7.91||Happy Baby Pose|
|Figure 7.92||Reclining Spinal Twist|
|Figure 7.93||Supported Shoulder Stand|
|Figure 7.94||Legs up the Wall Pose|
|Figure 7.95||Corpse Pose|
Pose by Category
|Table 7.1||Core Principles of Yoga Poses|
|Table 7.2||Gazes (Drishti)|
|Table 7.3||Starting Poses|
|Table 7.4||Warm-up Yoga Poses|
|Table 7.5||Arm Support Poses|
|Table 7.6||Forward Bend Poses|
|Table 7.7||Standing Poses|
|Table 7.8||Twisting Poses|
|Table 7.9||Balance Poses|
|Table 7.10||Backbend Poses|
|Table 7.11||Hip Opener Poses|
|Table 7.12||Cool-Down Poses|
|Figure 10.2||Sun Salutation A|
|Figure 10.3||Sun Salutation B|
|Table 5.2||Areas of Injury with Associated Poses|
|Figure 5.1||Plow Pose|
|Figure 5.2||Shoulder Stand Pose|
|Figure 5.3||Headstand Pose|
|Figure 5.5||Double Pigeon|
Muscle Locks and Hand Expressions
|Table 8.1||Muscle Locks (Bandhas)|
|Table 8.2||Hand Expressions (Hasta Mudras)|
|Figure 8.1||Wisdom Mudra|
|Figure 8.2||Consciousness Mudra|
|Figure 8.3||Life Mudra|
|Figure 8.4||Energy Mudra|
|Figure 8.5||Beak Mudra|
|Figure 8.6||Meditation Mudra|
|Figure 8.7||Salutation Seal Mudra|
|Figure 8.8||Heart Embrace Mudra|
|Figure 8.9||Connected Mind Mudra|
|Figure 8.10||Refreshing Mudra|
|Figure 8.11||Overcoming Mudra|
|Figure 8.12||Releasing Mudra|
|Figure 8.13||Heart Lotus Mudra|
|Figure 8.14||Lotus Mudra|
|Figure 8.15||Love Mudra|
|Figure 8.16||Enlightenment Mudra|
|Figure 8.17||Confidence Mudra|
|Table 9.1||General Categories of Meditation|
|Table 9.2||Forms of Meditation|
|Table 9.3||Breath Meditation|
|Table 9.4||Mindfulness Body and Sound Meditation|
|Table 9.5||Walking Meditation|
|Table 9.6||Gazing Candle Meditation|
|Table 9.7||Compassion Meditation|
|Table 9.8||Sa-Ta-Na-Ma Mantra Meditation|
|Table 9.9||Body Scan Meditation|
|Table 9.10||Visualization Meditation|
|Table 9.11||Om Meditation|
|Table 9.12||Sending and Receiving Meditation|
|Table 9.13||Ego Eradicator Meditation|
|Table 9.14||Pressure Mudra Meditation|
|Table 9.15||Pulsing Pressure Mudra Meditation|
Putting It All Together
|Table 10.1||Order of Yoga Pose Sequence|
|Table 10.2||Our 8-Week Yoga Program|
|Figure 10.1||Sun Salutation A Modified|
|Figure 10.2||Sun Salutation A|
|Figure 10.3||Sun Salutation B|
The Art and Science of Yoga
Why Do Yoga?
Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.
B. K. S. IYENGAR, LIGHT ON LIFE
Welcome to the practice of yoga. You may have come to yoga to feel stronger, get more flexible, or relieve stress. You are part of a growing community interested in yoga, a modern practice rooted in thousands of years of ancient Indian texts and traditions. Yoga encompasses physical postures, breathing techniques, meditation, and ethical principles. Archaeologists have found soapstone seals from over five thousand years ago that have yoga postures engraved on them. Yoga is first mentioned in the Vedic texts of Indian literature from 1700 to 500 BCE. The word itself comes from the Sanskrit root yuj, which means to yoke, to join, or to unite. While the practice continues to be taught (for hundreds of generations now) and continues to evolve, the fundamental idea that yoga unites our body, mind, and being remains.
Yoga is fast becoming a well-known practice in the American household. A 2016 survey conducted by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal found that the number of Americans doing yoga has grown by over 50 percent in the last four years to over 36 million as of 2016, up from 20.4 million in 2012. Nine out of ten Americans have heard of yoga, and one in three Americans has already tried yoga at least once. More than a third of Americans say they are very likely to try yoga in the next year. While yoga is currently more popular with women, more and more men are doing yoga, too. More older adults are trying yoga. Yoga is also gaining popularity with children and in schools.
When you do yoga, you will notice many benefits, ranging from stress relief and physical fitness to better flexibility and strength. Yoga builds your capacity to handle mental and physical stress and provides you with the flexibility and confidence to get through what you are experiencing—no matter where you are. People who do yoga are 20 percent more likely to have a positive image of their own physical and mental health, including a stronger sense of mental clarity, physical fitness, flexibility, and strength. The physical and psychological health benefits are real.
Over 90 percent of all current research on yoga has found that yoga has a positive impact on health.1 Our book is different from many other yoga books in that it provides you with a scientific and researched-based understanding of yoga. We also share our perspective as medical professionals who both practice yoga and use yoga in our clinical practice to treat stress, anxiety, depression, addictions, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga has many scientifically proven benefits for the mind and body.
Yoga builds strength and endurance. Many styles of yoga provide low-impact aerobic exercise and are good for your heart. One study found that 24 rounds of sun salutations 6 times a week significantly improved upper-body strength over 6 months. Another study found that an hour of rigorous yoga twice a week for 8 months increases leg strength.
Yoga improves balance and flexibility. Your sense of knowing where your body is in space and being able to balance will improve and have the potential to improve your overall athletic or fitness performance. A twice-weekly yoga program helped improved flexibility and balance in college athletes in just 10 weeks.2
Yoga builds your awareness of and connection to your body. The more that you can tune into your body, the more that you are able to listen to it and protect it from injury.
Yoga builds the mind-body connection. Your body and mind are powerfully connected to each other. Stress and emotions can have a major impact on your body and health. Building your mind-body connection helps you feel more whole and empowered to improve your health.
Yoga helps people who are already healthy. Yoga has been shown to improve the performance, wellness, and fitness of people who are already healthy, including athletes. Many professional athletes in football, basketball, baseball, tennis, and golf do yoga to help with their athletic performance.
Yoga encourages you to pursue a healthier lifestyle. Yoga motivates nearly two thirds of people to exercise more and 40% to eat healthier.3 Yoga practitioners are more likely to live green and eat sustainable food. Yoga may also inspire you to pursue many other physical or self-care activities.
Yoga gives you stronger "body-responsiveness." Body-responsiveness refers to our relationship with our own body, and, like any other relationship, listening and trust are essential for a strong relationship. A strong relationship with your body means: "I am confident that my body lets me know what is good for me" or "I am able to 'listen' to my body and what it needs."
Yoga improves your sleep. Yoga, including poses, breathing techniques, and meditation, are useful research-backed methods to help improve quality of sleep and treat insomnia. Sixty percent report that yoga helps them get better sleep.4
Yoga improves your immune system. At the biochemical level, yoga boosts your immune system so you're better able to fight off illnesses and heal faster.
Yoga is beneficial during healthy pregnancies. Prenatal yoga reduces stress and anxiety and helps women feel connected with their changing body during pregnancy.
Yoga is adaptable and useful to help with medical conditions. The most common health problems that lead people to try yoga are back pain, stress, and arthritis—all conditions that research has shown improve with practicing yoga regularly. Yoga has been shown to be helpful as part of treatment for a variety of medical conditions, including chronic lower back or neck pain, fatigue, obesity, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, Parkinson's disease, migraines, diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, and for cancer survivors.
Yoga helps you cope with health problems. Yoga not only can be integrated into the treatment of many different health issues, but it can ease coping with health problems. Yoga is adaptable and focuses on the individual's needs, so it be tailored to people who are frail or bedbound or not used to being physically active.
Yoga relieves stress. More than 80% of people who do yoga report that it reduces stress.5 You'll feel more calm and grounded with yoga. You don't have to escape your inner thoughts and feelings. You aren't encouraged to push your body too far. The original purpose of yoga and its poses is to calm the mind and prepare you for meditation, which is considered an important part of yoga. Stress is the leading cause for visits to the doctor and wreaks havoc on your physical body, so being able to relax is essential for your physical health as well.
"The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga is a wonderful addition to the yoga library that helps bridge the gap between East and West. The yoga world has to clean up its act in order to find its deserved place in the world of medicine, and this manual is a necessary step. The practices and research are sound."
—Rodney Yee, internationally renowned yoga instructor
"Every so often a manual emerges from the sea of 'how-to' yoga books and startles by virtue of its eminent accessibility, its breathtaking comprehensiveness, its scientific underpinnings, its remarkable clarity, and its immediate applicability. Dr. Marlynn Wei and Dr. James Groves's The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga is just such a manual. Inspired and inspirational, this book includes a treasure trove of easy-to-follow illustrations of numerous yoga poses; it will be an invaluable resource for all students of yoga interested not only in toning their body and reducing their stress but also, more generally, in evolving their health to ever-higher levels of mental, physical, and spiritual well-being."
—Martha Stark, MD, author of Relentless Hope: Refusal to Grieve and six other award-winning integrative psychiatry books
"Wei and Groves are reaching out to you, inspiring, coaxing, and above all informing about the path you can take for health and wellness of your inseparable body, mind, and soul. The lessons contained herein are encyclopedic in scope, but the message is of a journey that lies ahead for you, within you, accessible and transformative. Whether needed to enhance well-being and facilitate recovery for those who suffer or are ill or just make this one life at once more peaceful, reflective, calm and energetic, The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga can be your itinerary."
—Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, MD, chief of psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital; Stanley Cobb Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
"Marlynn Wei and James Groves have done the public a great service. They are physicians who've learned by acquaintance how yoga can be a powerful aid to health. Consequently, they have produced a thorough and very accessible guide replete with tables and summaries and simple drawings, which leaves the reader with an excellent grasp of this particular pathway to wellness."
—Gregory L. Fricchione, MD, director, Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School
"It is amazing to me that yoga has become popular enough that professors at Harvard Medical School would publish a book on the subject. Giving people more information and helping them find their way is what I see as being the great purpose of a book on the subject of yoga. Blessings to Marlynn Wei and James E. Groves for helping make this Divine Knowledge available to you, and may all achieve success in yoga."
—Sri Dharma Mittra, creator of the Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures
- On Sale
- Jun 27, 2017
- Page Count
- 336 pages
- Da Capo Lifelong Books