Tag Archives: yoga

Sweating in the summer heat promotes good health

Rex Says:  Having Immune System Issues?   We Americans tend to go from one air conditioned environment to another (house, car, work).  It’s a great reminder of how our bodies were designed to function that “One of [the skin's] functions is to eliminate a portion of the body’s toxic waste products through sweating,” explains Phyllis A. [...]

Rex Says:  Having Immune System Issues?   We Americans tend to go from one air conditioned environment to another (house, car, work).  It’s a great reminder of how our bodies were designed to function that “One of [the skin's] functions is to eliminate a portion of the body’s toxic waste products through sweating,” explains Phyllis A. Balch, CNC.  One of the reasons I chose ‘hot’ yoga as part of addressing my cancer naturally was because of the extra detoxing ‘boost’ from the ’sweating’.  So get out there and sweat some, it really does your body good !

Sweating in the summer heat promotes good health

by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer     NaturalNews.com Originally published July 26 2010
(NaturalNews) Summertime heat is an annoyance to some people, but according to Xu Qian, director of the infectious diseases department at the China-Japan Frienship Hospital in Beijing, sweating from the hot, summer heat is a natural part of keeping your body healthy, and avoiding this heat can actually cause health problems.

People typically run their air conditioners throughout the summertime in order to beat the heat, but doing so can actually compromise the immune system. Continue reading »

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Yoga for anxiety and depression (and stress reduction)

Rex says: Yoga has been a great part of healing myself naturally from cancer and decreasing stress. It’s health benefits are clinically documented in this Harvard Medical School article. And if you’d have told me a year ago I’d enjoy it so much, I’d never have believed it. I initially went as [...]

Rex says: Yoga has been a great part of healing myself naturally from cancer and decreasing stress. It’s health benefits are clinically documented in this Harvard Medical School article. And if you’d have told me a year ago I’d enjoy it so much, I’d never have believed it. I initially went as VERY skeptical.

Yoga for anxiety and depression
Harvard Medical School Mental Health Letter » April 2009

Studies suggest that this practice modulates the stress response.

Since the 1970s, meditation and other stress-reduction techniques have been studied as possible treatments for depression and anxiety. One such practice, yoga, has received less attention in the medical literature, though it has become increasingly popular in recent decades. One national survey estimated, for example, that about 7.5% of U.S. adults had tried yoga at least once, and that nearly 4% practiced yoga in the previous year.

Yoga classes can vary from gentle and accommodating to strenuous and challenging; the choice of style tends to be based on physical ability and personal preference. Hatha yoga, the most common type of yoga practiced in the United States, combines three elements: physical poses, called asanas; controlled breathing practiced in conjunction with asanas; and a short period of deep relaxation or meditation.

Many of the studies evaluating yoga’s therapeutic benefits have been small and poorly designed. However, a 2004 analysis found that, in recent decades, an increasing number have been randomized controlled trials — the most rigorous standard for proving efficacy.

Available reviews of a wide range of yoga practices suggest they can reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses and may be helpful for both anxiety and depression. In this respect, yoga functions like other self-soothing techniques, such as meditation, relaxation, exercise, or even socializing with friends.

Taming the stress response
By reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appears to modulate stress response systems. This, in turn, decreases physiological arousal — for example, reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. There is also evidence that yoga practices help increase heart rate variability, an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress more flexibly.

A small but intriguing study further characterizes the effect of yoga on the stress response. In 2008, researchers at the University of Utah presented preliminary results from a study of varied participants’ responses to pain. They note that people who have a poorly regulated response to stress are also more sensitive to pain. Their subjects were 12 experienced yoga practitioners, 14 people with fibromyalgia (a condition many researchers consider a stress-related illness that is characterized by hypersensitivity to pain), and 16 healthy volunteers.

When the three groups were subjected to more or less painful thumbnail pressure, the participants with fibromyalgia — as expected — perceived pain at lower pressure levels compared with the other subjects. Functional MRIs showed they also had the greatest activity in areas of the brain associated with the pain response. In contrast, the yoga practitioners had the highest pain tolerance and lowest pain-related brain activity during the MRI. The study underscores the value of techniques, such as yoga, that can help a person regulate their stress and, therefore, pain responses.

Improved mood and functioning
Questions remain about exactly how yoga works to improve mood, but preliminary evidence suggests its benefit is similar to that of exercise and relaxation techniques.

In a German study published in 2005, 24 women who described themselves as “emotionally distressed” took two 90-minute yoga classes a week for three months. Women in a control group maintained their normal activities and were asked not to begin an exercise or stress-reduction program during the study period.

Though not formally diagnosed with depression, all participants had experienced emotional distress for at least half of the previous 90 days. They were also one standard deviation above the population norm in scores for perceived stress (measured by the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale), anxiety (measured using the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory), and depression (scored with the Profile of Mood States and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, or CES-D).

At the end of three months, women in the yoga group reported improvements in perceived stress, depression, anxiety, energy, fatigue, and well-being. Depression scores improved by 50%, anxiety scores by 30%, and overall well-being scores by 65%. Initial complaints of headaches, back pain, and poor sleep quality also resolved much more often in the yoga group than in the control group.

One uncontrolled, descriptive 2005 study examined the effects of a single yoga class for inpatients at a New Hampshire psychiatric hospital. The 113 participants included patients with bipolar disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia. After the class, average levels of tension, anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, and fatigue dropped significantly, as measured by the Profile of Mood States, a standard 65-item questionnaire that participants answered on their own before and after the class. Patients who chose to participate in additional classes experienced similar short-term positive effects.

Further controlled trials of yoga practice have demonstrated improvements in mood and quality of life for the elderly, people caring for patients with dementia, breast cancer survivors, and patients with epilepsy.

Benefits of controlled breathing
A type of controlled breathing with roots in traditional yoga shows promise in providing relief for depression. The program, called Sudarshan Kriya yoga (SKY), involves several types of cyclical breathing patterns, ranging from slow and calming to rapid and stimulating, and is taught by the nonprofit Art of Living Foundation.

One study compared 30 minutes of SKY breathing, done six days a week, to bilateral electroconvulsive therapy and the tricyclic antidepressant imipramine in 45 people hospitalized for depression. After four weeks of treatment, 93% of those receiving electroconvulsive therapy, 73% of those taking imipramine, and 67% of those using the breathing technique had achieved remission.

Another study examined the effects of SKY on depressive symptoms in 60 alcohol-dependent men. After a week of a standard detoxification program at a mental health center in Bangalore, India, participants were randomly assigned to two weeks of SKY or a standard alcoholism treatment control. After the full three weeks, scores on a standard depression inventory dropped 75% in the SKY group, as compared with 60% in the standard treatment group. Levels of two stress hormones, cortisol and corticotropin, also dropped in the SKY group, but not in the control group. The authors suggest that SKY might be a beneficial treatment for depression in the early stages of recovery from alcoholism.

Potential help for PTSD
Since evidence suggests that yoga can tone down maladaptive nervous system arousal, researchers are exploring whether or not yoga can be a helpful practice for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

One randomized controlled study examined the effects of yoga and a breathing program in disabled Australian Vietnam veterans diagnosed with severe PTSD. The veterans were heavy daily drinkers, and all were taking at least one antidepressant. The five-day course included breathing techniques (see above), yoga asanas, education about stress reduction, and guided meditation. Participants were evaluated at the beginning of the study using the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), which ranks symptom severity on an 80-point scale.

Six weeks after the study began, the yoga and breathing group had dropped their CAPS scores from averages of 57 (moderate to severe symptoms) to 42 (mild to moderate). These improvements persisted at a six-month follow-up. The control group, consisting of veterans on a waiting list, showed no improvement.

About 20% of war veterans who served in Afghanistan or Iraq suffer from PTSD, according to one estimate. Experts treating this population suggest that yoga can be a useful addition to the treatment program.

Researchers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., are offering a yogic method of deep relaxation to veterans returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Kristie Gore, a psychologist at Walter Reed, says the military hopes that yoga-based treatments will be more acceptable to the soldiers and less stigmatizing than traditional psychotherapy. The center now uses yoga and yogic relaxation in post-deployment PTSD awareness courses, and plans to conduct a controlled trial of their effectiveness in the future.

Web extra
For more advice about reducing anxiety, visit our online Stress Resource Center at www.health.harvard.edu/stress.

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Utilize Yoga to Help Heal Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Rex Says: Yoga has been an instrumental part of addressing my cancer naturally. I’ve posted multiple articles on it’s benefits for both body and mental function, even detoxing. Are there any negatives? Search ‘yoga’ on this Harvard Medical School link below – they have mulitple articles. Namaste…
Utilize Yoga to Help Heal [...]

Rex Says: Yoga has been an instrumental part of addressing my cancer naturally. I’ve posted multiple articles on it’s benefits for both body and mental function, even detoxing. Are there any negatives? Search ‘yoga’ on this Harvard Medical School link below – they have mulitple articles. Namaste…

Utilize Yoga to Help Heal Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
by Sheryl Walters, citizen journalist

(NaturalNews) Yoga has long been known for having healing powers. Recently Yoga has begun to be used as a treatment to aid in healing those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Practitioners of Yoga claim that it aids them in feeling grounded and in the present, gaining awareness of their bodies and the strength of their bodies, feeling calmer, and being in control of their thoughts. Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatry professor at Boston University School of Medicine was involved in a recent study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. This study showed that Yoga can aid in PTSD recovery. In this study a group of female patients suffering from PTSD were taught Hatha Yoga in eight sessions while another group of female patients underwent eight sessions of group therapy. Those who finished the Yoga training showed a substantial improvement in symptoms such as “the frequency of intrusive thoughts and the severity of jangled nerves” in comparison to those who underwent group therapy. Van der Kolk had the following to say about the relationship which Yoga can play on aiding PTSD suffers, “The memory of the trauma is imprinted on the human organism. I don’t think you can overcome it unless you learn to have a friendly relationship with your body.”

One of the benefits of Yoga practice is that it can aid in toning down maladaptive nervous system arousal which helps in reducing perceived stress. Because of this effect Yoga could be helpful especially in patients suffering from PTSD. One randomized study followed a group of disabled Australian Vietnam veterans who were diagnosed with severe PTSD. A group of patients underwent a five day course which taught them “breathing techniques, yoga asanas, education about stress reduction, and guided meditation” and a control group received no education. By six weeks into the study the group that had received the education on yoga had decreased from moderate to severe PTSD scores to mild to moderate PTSD scores while the control group scores remained the same. Recently the United States Army has committed to spend $4 million dollars in research to find ways to aid veterans suffering from PTSD. This research will including looking into such things as “spiritual ministry, transcendental meditation, [and] Yoga” and “bioenergies such as Qi gong, Reiki, [and] distant healing.”

Yoga appears to be a natural and safe way for people suffering from PTSD and other stress and anxiety related disorders to help reduce symptoms allowing them to live more normal lives.

(1) http://www.yogajournal.com/health/2532

(2) https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/…

(3) http://www.veteranstoday.com/module…

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Help Depression Through Exercise

Lisa Says: find the ‘exercise’ that works for you. If you dread it, you won’t do it, and there IS movement that you will enjoy. It may be yoga, not strenuous exercises. Movement that you enjoy can also depend in part on your blood type.
Help Depression Through Exercise
by Sheryl Walters, citizen journalist
See all articles [...]

Lisa Says: find the ‘exercise’ that works for you. If you dread it, you won’t do it, and there IS movement that you will enjoy. It may be yoga, not strenuous exercises. Movement that you enjoy can also depend in part on your blood type.

Help Depression Through Exercise
by Sheryl Walters, citizen journalist
See all articles by this author
Email this author

(NaturalNews) For a person with depression and anxiety, exercise may seem like something that is hard to include in an already difficult life. Depression often results in a lack of energy and increased feelings of tiredness, so the thought of getting ready, out the door, and exercising might seem overwhelming. However, exercise has been proven to be beneficial to mood and to help ease the symptoms of depression.

Research done at Michigan State University compared a group of non-exercising depressed women against a group of depressed women that exercised for thirty minutes two times per week. Inventories taken at three weeks and at the end of the nine week program showed that the women who exercised had a significant reduction in depression symptoms. The women who did not exercise had no change in their depression symptoms.

Research shows that regular exercise helps decrease feelings of depression and anxiety, improves sleep, and reduces stress. During exercise the body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are a “feel good” chemical. They act as an analgesic to reduce the perception of pain and also elicit a calming effect on the body. In addition to these emotional benefits you also receive the physical benefits of exercise such as strengthening your cardiovascular system, weight loss, decreased risk of diabetes, and many others.

Starting out with even small amounts of activity, a 10 minute walk for example, can improve mood. Increasing activity to 30 minutes three to five days a week has been shown to greatly reduce depression symptoms. A structured exercise program isn’t necessary – any activity that elevates heart rate is beneficial. Walking, gardening, golfing, dancing, and even vigorous housework are all examples of moderate exercise that can help. Forming an exercise support system is helpful both to stick to an exercise program and build relationships that are important in helping depression. Some people find that joining a group exercise class or walking with a friend helps greatly.

When starting an exercise program consider factors that will increase your chances of being consistent. Choose an activity you love; if you don’t enjoy the exercise you are doing it is much more likely that you will not stick with it. Schedule exercise into your day and make it just as important as any other appointment. Make sure that you schedule your exercise session during a time when you feel most energetic; if you are not a morning person don’t schedule yourself for an early morning walk.

Sources:

-Why exercise helps depression (http://bps-research-digest.blogspot…)

-Exercise and depression (http://www.webmd.com/depression/gui…)

-Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/de…)

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Yoga Benefits Women with Breast Cancer

Rex Says: Yoga has been in integral part in addressing my cancer naturally with meditation and dealing with suppressed emotions. It’s been amazing, and if you’d have told me a year ago I’d not only be doing yoga, but LOVING it………
Friday, February 27, 2009 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
(NaturalNews) In a study just [...]

Rex Says: Yoga has been in integral part in addressing my cancer naturally with meditation and dealing with suppressed emotions. It’s been amazing, and if you’d have told me a year ago I’d not only be doing yoga, but LOVING it………

Friday, February 27, 2009 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor

(NaturalNews) In a study just published in the journal Psycho-Oncology, researchers conclude they’ve found a treatment that resulted in a 50% reduction in depression and a 12% increase in feelings of peace and meaning in women with breast cancer. The successful treatment isn’t a new type of anti-depressant or anti-anxiety drug. In fact, it isn’t a drug at all — it’s the ancient healing and exercise system known as yoga.

Wake Forest University School of Medicine scientists conducted a randomized study of 44 women, all with breast cancer; 34% were actively undergoing cancer treatment such as chemotherapy while the rest of the majority had already completed therapy. Half took a ten week program of 75 minute Restorative Yoga (RY) classes and half were in the waitlist control group. RY is a gentle type of yoga similar to other forms of yoga classes that gently moves the spine in all directions. Blankets, cushions, bolsters, and any other needed props provide support that results in deep relaxation with minimal physical exertion, allowing people at virtually any level of health to practice yoga more easily.

The women in both groups completed a questionnaire to assess the quality of their lives at the beginning and end of the ten week program. According to the Wake Forest research team, the results showed that the women who had been given the RY classes experienced significantly more benefits than the control group (who were later all invited to participate in identical RY classes).

Specifically, the yoga group was found to have improvements in mental health including depression, positive emotions, and spirituality (defined as feeling calm and peaceful) compared to the control group. In fact, the scientists found that women who started the yoga classes with higher negative emotions and lower emotional well-being experienced the most benefits from the gentle yoga exercises compared to the control group. In addition, while women in the control group did not report a change in their fatigue levels, the women taking yoga classes demonstrated a significant improvement in fatigue symptoms.

“Evidence from systematic reviews of randomized trials is quite strong that mind-body therapies improve mood, quality of life, and treatment-related symptoms in people with cancer. Yoga is one mind-body therapy that is widely available and involves relatively reasonable costs,” Suzanne Danhauer, Ph.D., who headed the Wake Forest University School of Medicine research team, said in a statement to the media. “Given the high levels of stress and distress that many women with breast cancer experience, the opportunity to experience feeling more peaceful and calm in the midst of breast cancer is a significant benefit.”

About the author
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA’s “Healthy Years” newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s “Focus on Health Aging” newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic’s “Men’s Health Advisor” newsletter and many others.

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Health Benefits of Yoga – Spirituality, Physically, Mentally

Rex says:  Yoga has been instrumental to my healing naturally from cancer.  I enjoy hot yoga for it’s health benefits but also for the meditative prayer time and how that has helped me deal with suppressed negative emotions which is critical to any and all healing processes.  But if you’d have told me I’d actually [...]

Rex says:  Yoga has been instrumental to my healing naturally from cancer.  I enjoy hot yoga for it’s health benefits but also for the meditative prayer time and how that has helped me deal with suppressed negative emotions which is critical to any and all healing processes.  But if you’d have told me I’d actually be DOING this a year ago……………..

by Lynn Berry (see all articles by this author)

(NaturalNews) Yoga has overtaken Aussie rules football (1) – more people are doing yoga – making it the 13th most popular physical activity in Australia. Even football players are doing yoga as part of their physical training every week.

A survey conducted by the Complementary Medicine team at RMIT University in Melbourne interviewed 3,832 people in a survey to find out who is doing yoga and why (2). They found a range of people practising yoga.

The typical student is female, 41, practises 1-2 times a week, is tertiary educated and describes herself as “spiritual but non-religious”, buys organic food and tends to be a vegetarian. However, more younger people are now trying out yoga given the popularity of Power Yoga (dynamic) and Bikram Yoga (in a heated room).

According to the survey, more people are doing yoga for mental and emotional complaints including stress, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders than for physical complaints. Overall, 96% of people who practised yoga reported improvements in a health condition.

Particular benefits have been noted in women with menstrual and menopausal symptoms, as well as with both men and women in helping with gastrointestinal, respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

In general, people take up yoga for health reasons and then find yoga to be a spiritual activity once they start. In fact, yoga is not just an exercise, it can also be a way of life involving chanting, breathing exercises, meditation. Some yoga teachers run “Art of Living” classes and workshops that incorporate some of these practices in the context of today’s living.

Much interesting research is being conducted into the benefits of yoga. At the Brahmavarchas Research Institute research into yoga, meditation, deep breathing and chanting is conducted, see (www.vatikashaktipeeth.com/html/Brahmvar…) . A number of people in Australia are also conducting research in these areas, see (www.yogainaustralia.com) .

Ayurvedic practitioners prescribe particular yoga positions to patients, known as Yoga Chikitsa, and recommend the form of yoga you do should suit your body structure and constitution.

Why Yoga?

Here’s what Deepak Chopra and David Simon say (3):

“Any reason for practicing yoga is a good reason. Enhancing flexibility and releasing stress are as noble a purpose for performing yoga as the awakening of spirituality. This is the great gift of yoga – it serves and nourishes us at every level of our being and spontaneously contributes to greater well being in all domains of life. Yoga will help you discover gifts within yourself that have remained unopened since your childhood – gifts of peace, harmony, laughter, and love.”

Notes:

(1) Aussie rules otherwise known as Australian Rules Football (AFL) is typically played by tall men in shorts who throw or kick the ball through goal posts. Points are awarded for a catch, and getting the ball through the posts. Much more enjoyable to watch than Rugby or Union (my humble opinion).

(2) Australian Yoga Survey – (www.yogainaustralia.com)

(3) (www.chopra.com/yoga)

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Yoga: An Alternative Treatment for Depression

Rex Says:  Yoga and meditation have become an integral part of my journey in healing myself from cancer.  I’ve said before that studies show that LONG term cancer survivors say that 50% of their healing was resolving supressed negative emotions not matter what course of treatment they chose.  A year ago I would never have [...]

Rex Says:  Yoga and meditation have become an integral part of my journey in healing myself from cancer.  I’ve said before that studies show that LONG term cancer survivors say that 50% of their healing was resolving supressed negative emotions not matter what course of treatment they chose.  A year ago I would never have considered taking yoga and now I don’t feel right if I miss a class !

article from newstarget.com

Yoga: An Alternative Treatment for Depression

by Stephanie Brail (see all articles by this author)

(NaturalNews) Feeling depressed or down? Don’t automatically reach for an anti-depressant. Do some yoga. These days, the typical treatment for depression comes in the form of a pill, which can often lead to serious side effects and dependency. Prior to modern drug companies, however, sages from the East discovered a method of calming the mind and soothing the spirit. These physical exercises, called “asanas,” are what modern Westerners typically think of when they hear the term “yoga.”

The roots of yoga date back tens of thousands of years. Yoga, in the grander sense of the word, is not just physical exercise. It is more than asanas. It consists of an entire philosophy and prescription for emotional and spiritual well-being.

Yoga asanas (or postures) were developed to prepare the body and mind for long periods of meditation. Ancient yogis believed that it was difficult to reach heights of spiritual awareness with a body that was suffering from ill health. The mind also needed to become calm and serene, and this was accomplished through the physical practice of asana.

Through trial and error over thousands of years, yoga evolved to become a powerful and effective mind/body practice. Thus, yoga is a special form of exercise specifically designed to calm the mind and reduce mental chatter and worry. Certainly, you might feel some stress relief from jogging or tennis, but yoga, unlike most western forms of exercise, was actually designed to create a sense of peace and serenity.

Western studies have shown that regular exercise can provide relief from depression. In addition, yoga postures have been specifically shown to increase levels of the neurotransmitter GABA, which may alleviate depression. Furthermore, as many enthusiastic practitioners of yoga will tell you, yoga seems to go beyond the benefits of general exercise and helps increase overall happiness.

How does yoga improve mental health?

On a physical level, yoga postures are designed to massage the internal organs, increasing and decreasing blood flow to targeted areas. This circulates the blood and lymph, thus removing stale bodily fluids from vital organs and helping flush toxins. The physical movement can also stimulate certain hormones and neurotransmitters, leading to positive feelings and emotions.

Additionally, according to the Eastern medical model, yoga exercises are also designed to specifically move the “prana” or life force energy in the body (traditional Oriental medicine calls this “chi”). Keeping this life force fresh and alive is vital to well-being, according to Eastern philosophy.

Yoga poses stimulate certain aspects of the body’s energetic system, comprised of “chakras” (energy centers) and “nadis” (the yogic term for “meridians” or energy channels). As stuck prana is moved and energized, old emotional wounds manifesting as blockages in the energy centers and channels can be released. This may explain why so many yoga practitioners experience a sense of emotional release from practicing certain poses, such as a spontaneous expression of tears, providing a sense of extreme relief and peace afterwards.

The special breathing exercises that go along with yoga (called “pranayama”) also serve to energize the body by bringing fresh quantities of prana in through the breath. These breathing exercises can also alleviate anxiety and create a sense of calm and well-being.

What type of yoga should you use for depression?

Not all yoga is the same. Since its introduction to the West, yoga has branched off into a variety of styles and flavors. The type of yoga you choose should reflect your physical requirements as well as your spiritual interests.

Some kinds of yoga are very physically strenuous and can potentially create more stress if you are in a class where everyone is powering through a challenging set, leaving you feeling inadequate or overwhelmed. Yoga styles such as power yoga or ashtanga can be quite physically challenging. Yoga flow classes may be more about losing pounds and sweating out calories than creating mental peace and clarity. Unless you are already an athlete and looking for a strenuous workout, you might consider trying a more relaxed style.

If you are just starting out with yoga, you might try a beginner’s yoga class or a gentle yoga class. Restorative yoga classes can be wonderfully rejuvenating; they consist of gentle poses, often using bolsters and props to allow you to rest and relax in the pose.

Kundalini yoga is a form of yoga that involves dynamic, repetitive movements and breath work to move the energy and lift the spirit. It is the only form of yoga that specifically targets certain glands in the brain, such as the pituitary and the pineal glands, to activate them for improved health and well-being. (For an excellent book on the subject, see Meditation as Medicine by Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. and Cameron Stauth.)

Ideally, if you are looking to yoga to improve mental health, consider finding a class that combines some meditation before or after the postures. Meditation has also been shown to increase positive emotions such as loving-kindness and happiness in some studies.

With the variety of yoga styles available, you may have to try out a few different classes to see what appeals to you the most. Do not be discouraged if you aren’t immediately drawn to the first class you attend. Be aware that not all yoga classes are equal. Some classes include pranayama breath work and others do not. Some include chanting and others do not. You may even find yoga classes in your area specifically for Christians, while others may be more secular. It’s a good idea to check out a few studios and classes and find the one that resonates with you the most.

Remember, yoga alone cannot cure depression if you are otherwise treating your body and your mind badly. Alcohol, drug use (including mind-altering prescription drugs), poor diet, lack of sleep, and other bad habits can negate the positive effects of yoga.

Doing yoga regularly will also make a huge difference in its effectiveness. Ideally, practice yoga for at least 20 minutes daily, or at a minimum three times per week. You can supplement outside yoga classes with a simple, at-home practice. With the popularity of yoga soaring, DVDs and books on yoga are plentiful.

There’s a reason why people who practice yoga often credit it for changing their lives. Unlike no other exercise on the planet, yoga provides physical as well as emotional benefits that can create true happiness and well-being. Best of all, you can do it at home for free, with no negative side effects.

About the author

Stephanie Brail is a wellness coach, healer and hypnotherapist. She provides information and perspectives on alternative health, well-being, spirituality, and more at www.feelgoodgirl.com.

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An Overview of How Stress Kills and How to Develop Your StresSkills

Rex Says: Stress and suppressed negative emotions are clearly related to cancer, most diseases are actually. My dealing with stress and suppressed negative emotions, which includes yoga with meditation and prayer, has been a major part of my healing from cancer.
ARTICLE:
Wednesday, April 23, 2008 by: Cindie Leonard, MA
(NaturalNews.com) In the past twenty years, thanks to [...]

Rex Says: Stress and suppressed negative emotions are clearly related to cancer, most diseases are actually. My dealing with stress and suppressed negative emotions, which includes yoga with meditation and prayer, has been a major part of my healing from cancer.

ARTICLE:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 by: Cindie Leonard, MA

(NaturalNews.com) In the past twenty years, thanks to modern technology, researchers have been able to scientifically prove that we have definite and distinct, physical responses to our emotions. There are currently thousands of books relating to stress and the toll it takes on the human body and psyche. The following is a synopsis of recent research demonstrating how stress kills and the protective, preventative effects of adapting stress management skills.

Stress is necessary for our survival. If our ancestors did not experience stress, we would not be here now. When a woolly mammoth comes charging at you, it is a very good idea to run. Day to day, common stressors are normal, and we have the hard-wired ability to cope. It is the chronic type of stress that is absolutely toxic; It’s outright lethal to our health and well being. It is vitally important that you monitor and manage the stress in your life and to make the commitment to take care of yourself. You will most likely always encounter stress. But, if you are living a balanced life, the way you perceive and react to stress will be healthier.

The Mind/Body Connection

One of the key principles in psychoneuroimmunology (mind/body medicine) is the interrelatedness of the mind and the body. It used to be believed that the mind and body were separate entities, but current research is proving otherwise. I need to keep emphasizing this fact, because when you allow stress to affect your life, you are allowing it to influence every organ, every cell of your body. That is a high price to pay.

“The mind steadfastly refuses to behave locally, as contemporary scientific evidence is beginning to show. We now know, for example, that brain-like tissue is found throughout the body… So, even from the conservative perspective of modern neurochemistry, it is difficult if not impossible to follow a strictly local view of the brain.” – Larry Dossey, M.D.

The following experiment is phenomenal. In 1993, under the direction of the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), scientists conducted an experiment that demonstrated that our cells, even outside of our body, will still respond to our emotions. “White blood cells (leukocytes) scraped from the mouth of a volunteer were centrifuged and placed in a test tube. A probe from a recording polygraph –- a lie (or emotion) detector -– was then inserted into the tube. The donor of the cheek cells was seated in a room separate from his donated cells and shown a television program with many violent scenes. Then the volunteer watched scenes of fighting and killing. The probe from the polygraph detected extreme excitation in the mouth cells even though they were in a room down the hall. Subsequent repeats of this test experiment with donor and cells separated up to fifty miles and up to two days after donation of the cells showed the same results. The donated cells remained energetically and non-locally connected with their donor and seemed to ‘remember’ where they came from.”

Paul Pearsall, Ph.D, author of The Heart’s Code: The Findings About Cellular Memories and Their Role in the Mind/Body/Spirit Connection.

Dr. Pearsall’s brilliant book explores and illuminates the fascinating and clinically documented stories of transplant patients. For example, one eight-year-old girl received the heart of a ten-year-old girl who was murdered. The girl who received the heart had dreams about the murderer, so vivid that she was able to describe the murderer to police. The time, weapon, clothes he wore, and place were so accurate, the man was convicted upon her testimony.

I site these studies because they demonstrate that our emotions are not just in our mind, they are in every cell of our bodies. Therefore, we must monitor the stress in our lives and honor our innate abilities to heal ourselves. If the heart thinks, the cells remember. The power of your thoughts on your health is profound.

What Is Stress?

Stress is a combination of responses in the body. Stress can be short-term (acute) or chronic. Acute stress is the “fight or flight” response. If a car is careening toward you at a high rate of speed, you will (or should) experience acute stress. This is what can save your life. It is when you experience so many common stressors, such as heavy traffic, noise, money worries, illnesses, relationship problems, rising crime rates, or work frustrations, that stress takes a chronic form. In the short term, stress can be vital. Over time, it turns destructive.

How destructive can stress be on your body? Research has shown that prolonged stress can produce actual tissue changes and organ dysfunction. With the new MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) techniques, scientists are able to prove visibly that chronic stress can shrink an area in the brain called the hypothalamus. Researchers have found that the brains of war veterans, as well as women who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse, have a marked reduction in the size of their hypothalamus.

Stress also affects your brain by releasing powerful chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine (also called adrenaline). The hypothalamic/pituitary-adrenal portion of your brain releases steroid hormones, including the primary stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol affects systems throughout your body, including an increased heart rate.
Your heart, lungs, and circulatory system are influenced by the increased heart rate. Blood flow may increase 300 to 400 percent. Blood pressure increases and breathing becomes rapid. Your mouth and throat may become dry. Skin may become cool and clammy because blood flow is diverted away so it can support the heart and muscle tissues. Even digestive activity shuts down.

Once again, occasional stress is normal. Once you’ve handled the situation, the stress goes away and you heal from the episode. But, if stressors accumulate over time, eventually the body becomes inefficient at handling even the least amount of stress. The brain, heart, lungs, vessels, and muscles become so chronically over or under activated that they become damaged. It is this sort of stress which may trigger or worsen heart disease, strokes, susceptibility to infection, sleep disturbances, sexual and reproductive dysfunction, memory and learning dysfunction, digestive problems, weight problems, diabetes, pain, and skin disorders.

“Extensive multidisciplinary studies have presented unequivocal evidence that our psychological responses to stress and our perceptions of stress to a considerable extent affect our susceptibility to disease. In active relationship, the immune, neuroendocrine, and nervous systems respond to the brain and psyche. Virtually all illnesses, from the flu to cancer, are influenced for good or bad by our thoughts and feelings.” – R. Lloyd, 1990 Healing Brain: A Scientific Reader

Depression, fear, anger, hostility, and other negative emotions depress the immune system. The immune system is our first line of defense against infections, germs, and bacteria. The neurotransmitters that help to protect our immune system are inhibited by stress.

“Severe emotions impair the immune system, while release from panic or despair frequently increase interleukins, vital substances in the immune system that help activate cancer-killing immune cells.” – Norman Cousins, 1990

You Can Choose to Manage Stress

You need not be a victim to chronic stress. Stress can be insidious; working its way into our lives before we are aware of the consequences. You can curb this process by being aware of the symptoms and sensations of stress, and employing proven methods to reduce stress. Equally important, you must recognize and remedy situations that trigger the stress in the first place.

First of all, it is crucial that you tap into your own internal wisdom to heal your body of stress and live a life of wellness and vitality. You really do know how to heal yourself of stress-related symptoms. You know that you need balance in your life. You simply need the time and space to access this healing force. You have what it takes to find a more peaceful and pleasurable life.

“Each patient carries his own doctor inside him. We are at our best when we give the doctor within each patient a chance to go to work.” – Albert Schweitzer

“It is wise to pay attention to how you view yourself. The internal, critical voice needs to be answered; its distortions refuted. Suppressed emotions need to be identified, owned, expressed, and processed. For example, to be healthy, express rather than repress such intense emotions as anger, rage, and hostility. These emotions, if chronic or unexpressed, cause a surging of hormones and chemicals with consequent increased risk of heart attack, stroke, arterial disease, headaches, and kidney problems. Releasing such patterns of emotional stress results in parallel biochemical unlocking. Identifying emotional roots of illness and making conscious changes in lifestyle, thoughts, emotions, and diet result in wellness in body, mind, and spirit.” – Christiane Northrup, M.D., 1996

By incorporating techniques for physical, mental, and spiritual health, one can cause physiological changes in the brain. These changes will lead to responses that are positively healing. What are some of these techniques? First of all, you must make the commitment to take care of yourself. Many people have difficulty in doing this, yet it is of utmost importance. If you are not whole and well and happy, what good are you to those you care for? Also, by taking care of yourself and by becoming a calmer soul, you will also be more pleasant to be around. Making this commitment involves first identifying the stressors in your life. Do they involve your family? Work? Relationships outside the family? Financial stress? Time management? Fuzzy boundaries? Legal problems? I suggest that you list the primary stressors in your life and rate their level of severity.

In her book, “Five Weeks to Healing Stress,” Valerie O’Hara, Ph.D., suggests the following:

1. Re-framing how you see a situation — changing your thoughts from awfulizing or catastrophizing to a more neutral perception. For example, changing your inner dialogue from “I can’t stand it” to “This is not my preference, but…”

2. Building your resilience to stress by maintaining good health habits, such as sound nutrition and regular exercise.

3. Learning coping skills, such as the relaxation techniques of conscious breathing, muscular relaxation, meditation, and quiet time.

4. Having a strong support system of friends and relatives.

5. Keeping creative time and fun as part of your life.

6. Releasing accumulated stress through stretching exercises and aerobic activities.

7. Improving your self-esteem.

8. Improving your communication skills.

9. Whatever works for you! Star gazing, a picnic, a walk in nature, playing with a pet, a pillow fight, sipping tea by a fire, watching a sunset.

Prayer and Meditation

Research into the value of prayer on the effects of stress and illness are astounding. Dr. Larry Dossey is at the forefront of such research. His studies are real, replicable, and relevant to medicine. Dr. Dossey believes that prayer-based healings are “one of the best kept secrets in medical science.”

The medical profession cannot seem to believe some of the recent studies on the power of prayer. Here are some of the most recent findings gathered by Paul Pearsall:

* Among 232 elderly patients undergoing open-heart surgery, those who were deeply religious were more likely to survive the surgery.

* Eleven of twelve studies showed that religious commitment is associated with curtailed drug use.

* Heavy smokers who attend church regularly are four times less likely to have high blood pressure than smokers who do not go to church, prompting one scientist to say, “If you are going to smoke, take your butt to church.”

* A survey of 91,909 persons who attended church regularly showed that they had 50 percent fewer deaths from coronary artery disease, 56 percent fewer deaths from emphysema, 74 percent fewer deaths from cirrhosis, and 53 percent fewer suicides.

* A study showed that patients receiving heart by-pass surgery who were prayed for had fewer complications than those who were not prayed for.

Paul Pearsall, Ph.D., The Pleasure Prescription: To Love, To Work, To Play – Life in the Balance, says that the therapeutic value of meditation is profound. Meditation elicits a relaxation response that promotes deep relaxation. Even brain waves are affected, increasing alpha activity — which is associated with calmness. Hans Selye, a pioneer in stress research, states that meditation and stress are mirror opposites. Meditation takes you away from the wear and tear of stress and gives you a complete rest.

“What matters is that for a time one be inwardly attentive.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Progressive Relaxation

This is a process of tensing and relaxing all of your muscles. You begin by tensing the muscles in your feet, holding for a few seconds, then focusing on letting go. You gradually move up your body, all the way to your face. A true tension melter.

Yoga

Yoga, to the uninitiated may seem strangely mysterious, yet is mostly a system of physical and mental exercises designed to balance and unite body and mind. There are many different paths to a yoga practice. Some forms of yoga may seem quite out of the ordinary. Respect your individual preferences. I recommend that you experience a variety of classes, teachers, and styles of yoga. Trust yourself to choose what is right for you. I also recommend that you try different yoga videos, which will allow you to practice at your own level in the privacy of your home. The benefits of yoga are too many for this little paper. I highly recommend incorporating the practice of yoga into your life. You will discover the benefits in a very short amount of time, perhaps after your first session.

“Hatha yoga is based on the principle that changes in consciousness can be brought about by setting in motion currents of certain kinds of subtler forces in the physical body.” – I.K. Taimini

“Awareness changes how we physically move. As we become more fluid and resilient so do the mental, emotional, and spiritual movements of our lives.” – Emile Conrad Da’oud

Recent research (Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia) demonstrated how just one session of yoga can lower blood levels of cortisol (a stress hormone). Researchers measured the levels of cortisol in men and women before and after they practiced yoga, then again before and after they sat quietly while reading or writing. After the yoga sessions, cortisol levels dropped significantly. There was no significant drop after the resting sessions. More proof that yoga is a therapeutic tool.
In short, yoga feels fantastic. As we must keep our minds in tune, so too our bodies. Yoga calms the central nervous system, eases tension, lowers stress, tones muscles and joints, improves your metabolism, stimulates digestion, and enhances flexibility and vitality.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from yoga is deep breathing. I use this all of the time… in traffic, while on hold on the telephone, anytime you begin to feel aggravation. Learn this method of breathing, it will help you through stressful situations.

1. Breathe with the abdomen. Allow your belly to expand as you inhale, both to the front and to the sides. Make a really big belly. The bigger the better. So many of us have over trained ourselves to hold in our stomachs that we’ve lost the gift of a full and complete breath. As you exhale, bring your navel toward your spine by contracting your lower abdominal muscles. This not only helps complete the exhalation, it is also an abdominal strengthening exercise.

2. Bring your attention to your breathing, keeping it long and even. Make sure that the inhalations and exhalations are of the same length. I like to breathe in to the count of eight, hold to the count of four, and breathe out to the count of eight.

3. Breathe in and out through your nose. This is a healthy practice, as your nose is lined with tiny hairs, which act as natural filters of pollution, dust, etc.

“Breath is aligned to both body and mind and it alone is the tool which can bring them both together, illuminating both and bringing both peace and calm.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Guided Imagery

Guided imagery will allow you to reach a profoundly healthy, healing, relaxed state in just minutes. Many hospitals now offer the service of guided imagery to help patients with surgery, chemotherapy, and other painful, or anxiety producing procedures.

Hypnosis

What is hypnosis? Hypnosis is an effective and safe method that will allow you to easily and predictably make the changes you desire in your life. Becoming more peaceful, calm, and serene is entirely possible with hypnosis.

In a hypnotic trance you will be in a state of heightened suggestibility. Because of the deepened sense of relaxation that you will feel physically, your conscious mind will also relax. This relaxed state will allow your subconscious mind to receive and process suggestions that can literally reprogram the way you react to stress.

Hypnosis is a profoundly effective therapeutic tool –- which is never dangerous to you. All of the suggestions are your own, and the healing you receive comes from within. Hypnotherapy can promote relaxation of both mind and body and can change behavior patterns that tend to aggravate stress.

Humor

Norman Cousins calls laughter “internal jogging.” Cousins had been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, an experience that had led him to question Western medicine. Cousins found the treatments suggested by his doctors to be totally lacking, so he checked himself out of the hospital and checked into a hotel. From here on, he literally laughed himself back to health. He immersed himself in only funny movies and television shows. He enjoyed every one of the Charlie Chaplin movies, and watched “Candid Camera” episodes until his sides hurt, laughing. His illness disappeared. From this experience, he wrote an enlightening book, “Anatomy of an Illness.” Cousins highlights scores of studies proving the health benefits of laughter and humor.

Saving the Best for Last

The following is an excerpt from one of the most powerful books I have read regarding emotions and the body. Candace Pert has focused a large part of her career exploring the relationship between our emotions and our physical health. From the phenomenal book, “Molecules of Emotion,” By Candace Pert, Ph.D:

“We must take responsibility for the way we feel. The notion that others can make us feel good or bad is untrue. Consciously, or more frequently unconsciously, we are choosing how we feel at every single moment. The external world is in so many ways a mirror of our beliefs and expectations. Why we feel the way we feel is the result of the symphony and harmony of our own molecules of emotion that affect every aspect of our physiology, producing blissful good health, or miserable disease.”

We have the hubris to think that just because we invented electric light bulbs, we can keep any hours we want. But neuropeptide informational substances link our biological clocks to the motions of the planet, which is why your quality of sleep — and wakefulness — is likely to improve the more closely your retiring and your rising are linked to darkness and daylight. If you get to sleep between 10 and 11 P.M., most of you will be able to wake up naturally and rested with the sunrise, if not before.
Meditation practiced early morning and early evening, routinely, even religiously, is, I believe, the single quickest, easiest, shortest, and cheapest route to feeling good, which means being in sync with your natural feelings.

The early morning is a great time to enjoy, to consciously envision a wonderful day. It’s a great time for the conscious mind to reenter the body with bodyplay (exercise sounds dreary), which may be gentle stretching or yoga one day, a brisk walk with dancing or a run to break a sweat the next. See how you feel before you decide. It seems natural — what the body was designed to do — to move a bit on arising, before eating or climbing into a car. Our foremothers and forefathers would almost certainly have started their days with movement.

For those of you interested in weight loss, another reason to get moving early on is that we are designed to be able to turn on the fat-burning neuropeptide circuitry in our bodyminds with just twenty minutes of mild aerobic exercise at the beginning of the day. Research by exercise physiologists has shown that after twenty minutes of elevated heartbeat and the deeper, more frequent breathing that naturally comes with it, our bodyminds enter a smooth, fat-burning mode that lasts for hours. The alert and calm feeling that settles in after an initial feeling of exhilaration usually goes hand in hand with a reduced appetite.

Spend some time in nature every day, longer on days off. Being outside is being in nature regardless of whether you’re in a forest, at the beach, or downtown in a large city. Look at the sky! Even cities have skies over them. Bad weather is no excuse — invest in warm clothes, good shoes, and a waterproof outer layer.

When to eat is as important as what you eat. Don’t starve yourself all day and eat late. In fact, your biggest food intake should be your midday meal, as it is in every nonindustrial culture, and as it used to be in our own. Eating at midday allows the food plenty of time to be completely and wholesomely digested before you retire for the evening. It also means that the molecules of nutrition will be carried to sites in the bodymind where they will reinforce conscious, vigorous, waking activity rather than being deposited as fat, which happens more readily when we eat too late. If you’ve never observed such a schedule, you would be amazed at the jolt of mental and physical energy you will feel — which is the way you are supposed to feel.

Avoid exogenous ligands that perturb the psychosomatic network so much that they warp its smooth information flow, producing “stuck” information circuits that prevent you from experiencing your full repertoire of potential experiences, and instead cultivate feedback loops that will restore and maintain your natural bliss. Translation: To feel as good as possible all of the time, avoid doing drugs, legal or illegal. Question any chronic prescription: If you have to have it, make sure you are taking the lowest possible dose that does the job. Under the supervision of your doctor or other medical consultant, consider taking a “drug holiday” every once in a while to see if you really still need that sleeping pill, antidepressant, antiulcer, or high blood pressure medication. Experience how amazingly responsive and resilient, lively and blissful the natural undrugged state is. Being drug-free allows your system to focus on healing your own bodymind rather than compensating for drug-induced alterations and expending bodymind effort on detoxifying and excreting drugs.

Think of sugar as a drug with chronic effects right up there with more acknowledged “drugs of abuse.” Sucrose, the white powder isolated from acres of green plants (sugarcane or sugar beets) turns into glucose, a key metabolic regulator of your bodymind, which acts on glucose receptors to control the release of insulin and numerous other neuropeptides from the pancreas, drastically altering how we feel — sluggish or peppy, low or high — and how we metabolize our food. Satisfy sweet cravings with fruit, which has a different kind of sugar, fructose, which less readily causes the release of insulin. Refined white sugar changes the profile of peptides released from the pancreas (in addition to insulin), which results in a sluggish, fat-storing mode. In general, work on exploring the impact of what you eat on the way you feel.

Drink eight glasses of unchlorinated water every day. So often we eat when we’re really thirsty rather than hungry. Our internal signals have gotten confused because we evolved eating whole, natural foods (fruits and vegetables), which have a much higher water content than our current diets of chips and dips and numerous other packaged, processed foods and junkstuffs.

Aim for emotional wholeness. When you’re upset or feeling sick, try to get to the bottom of your feelings. Figure out what’s really eating you. Always tell the truth to yourself. Find appropriate, satisfying ways to express your emotions. And if such a prescription seems too challenging, seek professional help to feel better. I believe the alternative or complementary therapies are a form of professional help much less likely to do harm and more likely to do good than conventional approaches. They work by shifting our natural balance of internal chemicals around, so we can feel as good as possible. They are often particularly helpful for the alleviation of many chronic maladies that currently have no good medical solutions.

Consciously and lovingly acknowledge each family member before sleep. That is, say goodnight. Don’t program your bodymind with images of death, destruction, and the bizarre before retiring. Translation: Never wind down with the nightly news. Instead, try a book, a relaxing hobby, a hot bath, or even light housework.

Last, but definitely not least, health is much more than the absence of illness. Live in an unselfish way that promotes a feeling of belonging, loving kindness, and forgiveness. Living like this promotes a state of spiritual bliss that truly helps to prevent illness. Wellness is trusting in the ability and desire of your bodymind to heal and improve itself given half a chance. Take responsibility for your own health — and illness. Delete phrases like, “My doctor won’t let me…” or, “My doctor says I have (name of condition), and there is really nothing I can do” from your speech and thought patterns. Avoid unscientific beliefs about your need for medications and operations.”

Wishing you vibrant health, a joyful spirit, and a delicious life.

References:

Benson, H., 1996. Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief. New York: Scribners.

Breathnach, S. B. 1995. Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. New York: Warner Books

Cousins, N. 1981. Anatomy of an Illness. New York: Bantam

Cousins, N. 1989. Biology of Hope. New York: Dutton

Cummings, N. A. 1991. “The Somatizing Patient.” In Psychotherapy in Managed Health Care, By C. Austad. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.

Dossey, L. 1995. “Healing Happens.” Utne Reader, no.71 (Sept/Oct)

Klopfer, B. 1957. “Psychological Variables in Human Cancer.” Journal of Projective Techniques. 21:331-40.

Miller, E. 1997. Deep Healing: The Essence of Mind/Body Medicine. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House

Northrup, C. 1996. “When Women Listen to Their Bodies.” Body, Mind, Spirit 15, no. 1 (Dec/Jan)

Northrup. C. 1994. Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. New York: Bantam

O’Hara, V. 1996. Five Weeks to Healing Stress: The Wellness Option. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications

Pearsall, P. 1998. The Heart’s Code. New York: Random House

Pearsall, P. 1996. The Pleasure Principle. Alameda, CA: Hunter House

Pert, C. 1997. Molecules of Emotion. New York: Touchstone

Selye, H. 1977. The Stress of Life. New York: McGraw-Hill

About the author

Cindie Leonard has a Master’s degree in Psychology and specializes in research. http://www.cindieleonard.com .
For more information on managing stress, please visit her site at: http://www.SerenityRX.com

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