Posted by: yoga librarian | July 22, 2014

Health Tip: Using the Web for Health Information

As a (former) librarian, I’m often asked to help find information on a variety of exercise- and medical-related topics. Although there is a lot of great information on the internet there is also a lot of garbage. (I won’t mention the weird stuff I found today….)

How can the average consumer figure out which is which?

I came across some great tips today on MedlinePlus that may help make separate the good stuff from the not-so-good.

Health Tip: Using the Web for Health Information: Make sure the information, source are sound

By Diana Kohnle (Monday, July 21, 2014)

(HealthDay News) — While the Internet can be a great source of health knowledge, it is important to make sure that you’re getting sound advice from a trusted source. The American Academy of Family Physicians offers these guidelines:

  • Make sure the information was either written or medically reviewed by a doctor, or that the original source is clearly noted.
  • Look for reliable sources for statistics.
  • Make sure the information is factual, versus opinion.
  • Look for information that has been written or updated within the past year.
  • Sites run by government, university or nonprofit organizations tend to be reliable because they are not funded by companies that may have a conflict-of-interest.

Related MedlinePlus Page: Evaluating Health Information

Posted by: yoga librarian | July 12, 2014

Yoga May Provide an Antidote to Teacher Burnout

An Antidote to Teacher Burnout: How Yoga and Mindfulness Can Support Resilience In and Out of the Classroom

A movement to bring yoga and mindfulness to children is blooming. Many schools have implemented contemplative programming to help kids thrive, and research studies document the positive effects of yoga and mindfulness practices for children. But, what about the teachers, administrators, and other school personnel who work with children on a daily basis?

It’s no secret that teacher burnout is a pressing issue in our educational system. A shocking statistic: nearly one third of all newly recruited teachers are either resigning or reporting burn out in their first 3 to 5 years of professional experience.Gallup’s State Of America’s Schools 2012 Report says nearly 70% of K-12 teachers surveyed do not feel engaged in their work… 

Among many studies linking yoga and mental health, there is a significant research agenda studying the effects of contemplative practices specifically on teachers. 

Read the complete article on>>

Posted by: yoga librarian | July 8, 2014

Yoga May Slow Down Aging

New Study Suggests That Yoga May Help Slow Down Aging

Most people know how a regular yoga practice can improve energy and vitality. But does yoga actually impact the biochemical markers of healthy aging? A new study indicates so. The study found that intensive daily yoga practices may stimulate the production of two key hormones linked to youth and vitality, growth hormone (GH) and DHEAS.

Reposted from Yoga U Online. Read the full article>>

Posted by: yoga librarian | June 26, 2014

New Study Shows Yoga Has Healing Powers

National Geographic Daily News reports on several new studies on the healing powers of yoga.

  • In a study of 200 breast cancer survivors who had not practiced yoga before the study, the group that had practiced yoga reported less fatigue and higher levels of vitality three months after treatment had ended. The study was led by Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State University, and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
  • In research that has not yet been published, Maryanna Klatt, an associate professor of clinical family medicine at Ohio State University found that 160 third graders in low-income areas who practiced yoga with their teacher had self-reported improvements in attention.

Read the full article>> New Study Shows Yoga Has Healing Powers.

Posted by: yoga librarian | April 21, 2014

Community Teamwork volunteer selected as Hannaford Health Hero

Westford resident recognized for commitment to health and wellness for local seniors

LOWELL, Massachusetts – A volunteer with Community Teamwork in Lowell has been selected by Hannaford Supermarkets as a “Hannaford Health Hero” for her dedication to increasing health and wellness awareness among local seniors.

Pat FitzGerald of Westford serves as the volunteer leader in the Bone Builders program with Community Teamwork. In her role, FitzGerald organizes senior fitness classes focusing on balance and strength-building exercises and educates class attendees on osteoporosis-related topics, such as fall prevention and proper nutrition.

FitzGerald is the first Bay State resident to be recognized this year by Hannaford Supermarkets in conjunction with the Hannaford Health Hero program. Now in its third year, the program will recognize the work of 12 volunteers who inspire others within the community to make healthy choices for life on behalf of non-profit organizations.

“At Hannaford, we strongly believe in promoting health and wellness within the communities we serve,” said Hannaford Supermarkets Community Relations Specialist Molly Tarleton. “We are thrilled to honor Pat as a Hannaford Health Hero and commend Community Teamwork for its commitment to encouraging healthy lifestyles for Massachusetts residents.”

FitzGerald was nominated by Joan Aseltine, Bone Builders coordinator for Community Teamwork, which serves low-income individuals by providing opportunities for them to achieve stability, self-sufficiency and have an active voice and participation in the decisions that affect their lives.

In the nomination, Aseltine wrote, “Pat’s leadership and quality of volunteer training has been the key to our successful Bone Builders program. She has made an enormous impact on the healthy lifestyles of over 300 individuals in the greater Lowell area.”


Posted by: yoga librarian | August 23, 2013

Elvis Presley Yoga Video

Elvis Presley – Yoga Is as Yoga Does

Those are probably two things you never thought you would see in the same video. This is from his 1967 film, Easy Come, Easy Go.

How can you not love a movie with Elvis Presley as a former Navy frogman who moonlights as a nightclub singer and is searching for sunken treasure with the help of a go-go dancer who practices yoga?

Elvis Presley – Yoga Is as Yoga Does (Words & music by Nelson – Burch)

Well I can see that you and yoga will never do

Yoga is as yoga does there’s no in-between
Your either with it on the ball or you’ve blown the scene
I can see lookin’ at you, you just can’t get settled
How can I even move, twistin’ like a pretzel

(Yoga is, yoga does)
(There’s no in-between)
(Your either with it all the way) Or you’ve blown the scene
(Or you’ve blown the scene)

Come on come on, untwist my legs
Pull my arms a lot
How did I get so tied up
In this yoga knot
You tell me just how I can take this yoga serious
When all it ever gives to me is a pain in my posteriors

(Yoga is, yoga does)
(There’s no in-between)
(Your either with it all the way) Or you’ve blown the scene
(Or you’ve blown the scene)

Stand upside down on your head, feet against the wall
A simple yoga exercise done by one and all
Now cross your eyes and hold your breath, look just like a clown
Yoga’s sure to catch you if you come falling down

(Yoga is, yoga does)
(There’s no in-between)
(Your either with it all the way) Or you’ve blown the scene
(Or you’ve blown the scene)

(Yoga is, yoga does)
(There’s no in-between)
(Your either with it all the way) Or you’ve blown the scene
(Or you’ve blown the scene)

Posted by: yoga librarian | August 23, 2013

Amazing Women – Happy Birthday Tao Porchon-Lynch

Tao Porchon-Lynch
Yoga teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch, who celebrated her 95th birthday last week, has just released her first yoga DVD.

I’ll sometimes ask my yoga students to guess her age. Most guess 70s or early 80s.

A Yoga Journal birthday tribute quotes her advice to those who hope to keep up their yoga practice into their 90s?: “There is no such thing as ‘age.’ Tune into the power of the eternal, and feel the beauty of life. Nothing is impossible. Yoga revitalizes us with every breath we take.”

Order her video on Yoga with Tao Porchon-Lynch.

And visit her website to read her biography, watch interviews, and see photos of her doing competitive ballroom dancing.

Posted by: yoga librarian | February 3, 2013

Man Bites Downward-Facing Dog

Man Bites Downward-Facing Dog

Yoga Journal’s Medical Editor Responds to The New York Times

By Timothy McCall, MD (revised January 29, 2013)

Download the PDF of this article, with hyperlinks.

Could yoga make you fat (especially if you’re a woman)? Does it cause hundreds of strokes per year? Sex you up so much you’ll engage in unethical behavior? Did the entire discipline start out as a sex cult? If you read The New York Times you might think so. As much as I’ve often disagreed with him, up until now I’ve been diplomatic in my responses to William Broad’s writings about yoga in The Times and in his book The Science of Yoga. But after his recent article in which he asserted that “yoga is remarkably dangerous — for men,” I felt it was time to speak up.

For those who’ve forgotten, Broad is the science reporter who a year ago published an alarming and controversial book excerpt entitled “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body,” in the Sunday New York Times Magazine. While I joined the chorus in the yoga world that responded to its mistakes and exaggerations, I also wrote that by raising the issue of yoga injuries — which some teachers were not discussing enough — he provided a service. My Yoga International review recommends reading his book. But a disturbing pattern of sensationalism is now emerging. Broad has repeatedly made shocking, man-bites-dog claims, which succeed in bringing attention to himself and his book, but which fail to hold up under scrutiny. No extraordinary evidence backs his extraordinary claims.

One, parroted by Maureen Dowd in her popular Times column prior to his book’s release, is that yoga could make you fat — particularly if you’re female. Broad based that assertion entirely on an extrapolation from the long-documented fact that practicing yoga can lower the metabolic rate. Why is that? When you are stressed, your sympathetic nervous system steels your body for fight or flight. Your heart beats faster, your blood pressure goes up, more blood is delivered to large muscles, all of which burns calories. Calm your mind and relax your body with yoga and your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, and you don’t burn all those nervous-energy calories. Broad’s weight gain warning was pure speculation without an ounce of data behind it, and neglected much of the story.

Did Broad consider the effects of stress-related eating? Cortisol-induced binges, and what scientists studying rats call “food seeking behavior?” What about the stress hormone’s penchant for turning extra calories into belly fat, the most dangerous kind metabolically? And yoga’s proven ability to lower cortisol? None of it is discussed in The Science of Yoga. In fact, there’s only one brief mention in the entire book of this hormone so intimately tied to obesity (and many other diseases). He also failed to cite any of the scientific studies that have examined the issue of yoga and body weight. While that research is far from definitive, the preponderance of the evidence suggests that yoga can help people drop excess weight, and prevent unhealthy weight gain, as I pointed out in my 2007 book Yoga as Medicine (which he must have read since his book recommends it).

For example, Dr. Alan Kristal of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and colleagues surveyed more than 15,000 people in their fifties, 132 of whom had been regular yoga practitioners for at least four years. During the previous ten years, overweight people in the yoga group had lost an average of five pounds, compared to a 13.5 pound gain among overweight non-practitioners. A more recent study, published in The International Journal of Yoga (full text here) found that among more than 200 women, all long-term yoga practitioners over the age of 45, the more yoga they practiced, the lower the body mass index (BMI). The results held up even when adjusted for such factors as age and lifestyle. Among the 49 women who had practiced more than 25 years, there were no cases of obesity.

Then there was Broad’s Times article on yoga and sex scandals, which argued they were inevitable because yoga supercharges libido. While scientific studies have found the practice improves sexual function and satisfaction, Broad’s notion that any of this explains inappropriate sexual behavior is once again speculation without data. And, his assertion in The Science of Yoga that “the entire discipline [of yoga] itself began as a sex cult,” is false and an insult to millions of Hindus.

Download the PDF of this article, with hyperlinks.

In making the case that men are at higher risk of yoga injuries in the recent Times article, Broad examines 18 years of data — from 1994 to 2011 — from a federal program that monitors emergency room visits. He didn’t provide any raw numbers (making it hard to interpret the results since we don’t know if we’re talking about 12 cases or 12,000) just the relative percentages for males and females in 4 categories of “major” injuries 1) strains or sprains 2) dislocations 3) fractures, and 4) nerve damage. So, for example, men had 24 percent of the dislocations in the reports — more than expected — as Broad estimated they comprised just 16 percent of yoga practitioners (though no peer-reviewed scientific journal would accept his method for calculating that 16 percent).

In his analysis, Broad only included “major injuries,” but how he decided what to include and what to exclude seems idiosyncratic at best. Ankle sprains, for example, can be painful, but most of them shouldn’t be categorized as major injuries. (Of note, Broad categorized sprains and strains as minor in the paperback version of his book, when he analyzed the same government data.) In contrast, syncope (fainting), which Broad found disproportionately affects women, he categorized as “minor,” and thus didn’t include in his analysis. The question is whether Broad decided which categories to include after examining the data — perhaps okay in journalism but a serious no-no in scientific research, as there’s the risk of cherry-picking the data that support your theories.

Most surprisingly, Broad’s latest Times article failed to mention the lifethreatening condition that was the subject of one of his book’s most shocking claims. Using unscientific methodology, he calculated that yoga causes 300 strokes a year. That would be over 5000 cases of yoga-induced strokes in 18 years. You would think that if Broad had found support for that claim in the government’s emergency room tracking data he would have reported it.

As I wrote on the Yoga for Healthy Aging blog, I believe men, in comparison to their proportions in the yoga world, are more likely to take more strenuous and acrobatic classes where injuries would appear to be more common. And, in my experience, men are more likely to push too hard for results (although women can do this too), and this is a well-known precipitant of injury. Most yoga teachers with whom I’ve spoken believe that more flexible students (disproportionately women) are far more likely to get such injuries as hamstring muscle tears and overstretching of pelvic and spinal ligaments, serious (and often nettlesome) but probably less likely to result in a trip to the ER. These factors — and poor methodology — more than any inherently greater male susceptibility to injury, could explain Broad’s findings entirely. The bottom line that there isn’t enough evidence at this point to say which gender is at higher risk for yoga injuries. And we certainly should not, based on relative percentages in a few categories of injuries, be labeling yoga as “remarkably dangerous” for men.

“Some yoga practitioners will surely see my analysis as unconvincing,” Broad writes. “It’s the kind of topic,” he says, “that can only benefit from thorough discussion* — as well as rigorous new studies that can rule out the possibility of false clues.”

Finally something we can agree on.

Dr. Tim McCall

Board-certified internist and yogi Timothy McCall, MD teaches yoga therapy seminars worldwide. He is the medical editor of Yoga Journal and the best selling author of Yoga as Medicine. This article appeared in his email newsletter, available at, where you can download the PDF of this article, with hyperlinks.

*In conjunction with the publication of this article, Yoga U, an online educational resource, will rebroadcast free of charge a 4-hour telesummit on yoga injuries recorded last year, featuring Timothy McCall and many of the country’s leading yoga teachers.

©2013 Timothy McCall, MD

Posted by: yoga librarian | October 8, 2012

Structural Prana and Svaroopa® Yoga

“Have you ever thought about the energy that returns your spine to neutral? It’s not something you control with your muscles… The real yoga is just getting out of your own way.” (Leslie Kaminoff)

Watch the video with Leslie Kaminoff»

“There is something about the way we are put together that inherently wants to hold us up. …when we’re trying to find our support, what we’re really looking for are all the things we are doing to get in the way of this — to get in the way of what’s already present in the system.

And it runs a little bit counter to how we’re accustomed to accomplishing things, which is if I just try harder or work better or learn more about posture or alignment … and bring that into the system then I’ll hold myself up better. Well, quite often all our attempts in that direction is exactly the thing that is getting in the way.

It’s releasing tension that allows these deeper forces of support to show up. And that’s really inherent in the teachings of yoga.”

Watch the video»

Posted by: yoga librarian | July 25, 2012

Diets High in Salt Could Deplete Calcium in the Body

ScienceDaily  (July 24, 2012) — When sodium leaves a body, it takes calcium along with it, creating risk for kidney stones and osteoporosis.

The scientific community has always wanted to know why people who eat high-salt diets are prone to developing medical problems such as kidney stones and osteoporosis.

When sodium intake becomes too high, the body gets rid of sodium via the urine, taking calcium with it, which depletes calcium stores in the body. High levels of calcium in the urine lead to the development of kidney stones, while inadequate levels of calcium in the body lead to thin bones and osteoporosis.

Read the complete article.

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