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Why You Should Try Yoga

By Cynthia Wallace, PA-C

trying-yoga

I began the practice of yoga because, like so many of us, I struggled to balance the demands of my professional life as a physician’s assistant with responsibilities as a wife and mother of two. I never loved to exercise, and since there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day, taking care of myself was at the bottom of the list.

But that changed last Christmas when my husband gifted me with enrollment in a yoga class. I was a little skeptical, but he had already paid for it, so I had to go. It’s not an exaggeration to say that it was life-changing. At first I was a bit intimidated; everyone else in the class knew what to do when the instructor called out commands. I walked in not even recognizing child’s pose! And all the other participants looked incredibly fit and had much greater strength and flexibility than I’ve ever had. But I stuck with it. I kept going because even if was exhausted after a long day and had to drag myself to the studio, I was energized and calm after I left the class. I felt present when I was with family and not overwhelmed by my to do list. I even slept better.

Now that we are in the midst of this pandemic I feel the need to continue my practice more than ever — not just for myself but so that I can project peace and tranquility to my children – whose whole lives are upside down. I’m not able to join my class in the studio, but I have found the same sense of well-being as I stream on-demand sessions through my Peloton app. (Other great sites are: grokker.com, yogawithadriene.com, doyogawithme)

Yoga promotes  increased flexibility, weight reduction, and increased muscle strength. At this moment, I most value its mental health benefits which include reduction in anxiety, improved moods and clearer thinking. The list goes on. My family benefits from my practice as well. I am definitely a nicer person when I practice yoga!

When you need to find calm in your life, take some time for yourself and do a few minutes of yoga or at the least find a quiet place to breathe deeply and reflect peacefully (check out imcw.org or Headspace.com). Don’t be afraid to carve out your own time; it is best for everyone.

 

Stay Safe and Healthy!

 

Namaste,

Cynthia Wallace, PA-C

Exercising Your Skin

Happy 2020! It’s a new year, a new decade, and a great time to cultivate habits that improve your health and well-being. If you’re like me, exercise is on your list of resolutions. There is tremendous evidence demonstrating the myriad benefits of physical activity: it’s vital for muscles, bone and cardiovascular system, improves mood and memory, decreases depression, helps with weight loss, increases energy levels and reduces risk of chronic disease.

And here is one more reason to add exercise to your list of resolutions: a healthy body translates into healthy skin.

Research shows that moderate exercise itself can act as an antioxidant[1]. Oxidative stress leads to chronic inflammation and collagen fragmentation, resulting in older looking skin[2].  Antioxidants help protect against these changes.

But did you know that exercising the skin itself might improve appearance? A Northwestern University study by Dr. Murad Alam studied the effects of at-home facial exercises. Women were trained by a certified instructor (www.happyfaceyoga.com) who specializes in resistance exercises for the muscles in the face.

The program, developed by Gary Sikorski of Providence, Rhode Island,  targets the muscles below the skin and fat layers in order to compensate for “age-related volume loss.” Blinded observers found that women who practiced 30 minute face yoga every day or every other day for 20 weeks had significant improvement in upper and lower cheek fullness[3]. The participants were consistently satisfied with their improvement.

This was a small study, limited to middle-aged women, and there was no control group. Nonetheless, it’s intriguing to consider that regular, specific facial exercises might increase muscle size and thus produce facial fullness. Exercising other parts of the body can tone and firm, why not on the face? All it takes is a little self-discipline. Probably easier said than done, but I’m going to give it a try!

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Gomez-Cabrera MC, Domenech E, Vina J “Moderate exercise is an antioxidant: upregulation of antioxidant genes by training.” Free Radic Biol Med 2008; 44 (2): 126-31.

[2] Kruk J, Duchnik E “Oxidative stress and skin diseases: possible role of physical activity.”  Asian Pac J Cancer Prev 2014: 15(2) 561-8.

[3] Alam MA, Walter AJ, Geisler A, Roongpisuthipong, W, Sikorski G, Tung R, Poon E “Association of Facial Exercise with Appearance of Aging.”.  JAMA Dermatol 2018: 154(3): 365-7.