Why yoga and
what is that actually?
Yoga, but also other therapeutic concepts of motion, breathing and meditating are known to benefit the overall well-being. That is only one reason as to why yoga became such a popular trend lately. Even in the west you’ll be able to find several yoga studios in every city. They will offer anything from children’s yoga to yoga for seniors, bikram, anusara, ashtanga yoga and many more.
But what exactly is yoga and why can it be helpful with histamine intolerance?
The concept “yoga” involves thousands of years of tradition that is rooted in India. Today’s several yoga styles have roots in several original yoga styles. Yet, mainly hatha yoga influenced modern yoga today, especially in Europa and America. But the transition from East to West did not happen without changes and some losses. Hatha yoga originally used to prepare the body for other yoga forms, e.g. for longer meditation, nowadays evolved to be the yoga in general. In the West hatha yoga is famous for being physical very demanding. Nowadays the focus often lies more on body work(out) than on spiritual development and meditation.
Traditional hatha yoga went beyond just physical work and poses (asanas). Especially breathing techniques (pranayama) and specific hand movements (mudras) were part of it. Today’s hatha yoga tends to be very quick and flowy, changing from one pose to the other. Nowadays, postures held longer for intense stretching or meditation practice are usually characteristics for other yoga styles. Traditionally these qualities were part of hatha yoga, too. The strong connection between martial arts and yoga is worth mentioning at this point as well. Yoga is one way to enhance one’ physical power and to gain enlightenment. But whoever feels like yoga might be too “calm” for them and who is looking for some more “action” can also try out traditional martial arts like chi kung or tai chi chuan. You will notice similarities to yoga in practice and movements quite quickly. And vice versa, you will find elements of traditional martial arts in yoga, too.
Although yoga rose to be a trend in the West and despite many people already practicing it, the benefits of yoga practice just recently became a matter of scientific research. One explanation for that certainly can be the language and translation problem, but it might also be due to cultural differences. Yoga and martial arts are closely tied to Asian philosophy, but also traditional Chinese medicine. Concepts and world views of Asian philosophy and traditional Chinese medicine stand in tremendous contrast to those common in Western philosophy and modern Western medicine. Terms like “the 5 elements” or “yin and yang” are not to be understood in the literally.
I will try to shine a light on the benefits of yoga from a Western point of view.
Specific breathing techniques will enhance the oxygen supply of organs. Correct breathing will also help to detox your body. Environmental toxins that we breathe in with air and that leave debris in the lungs will be expelled.
Yogic poses will stimulate and enhance circulation without putting too much stress on the heart. Muscles will be strengthened. Malalignments, both ones you’ve been born with and ones you might have acquired due to false position, can be corrected. Specific postures provide benefits for specific body areas. Postures can work like a massage of the organs. Therefore their activity will be stimulated.
Meditation cleanses the mind and will relax you. It stimulates creativity and the mind in general.
Going beyond general benefits I would like to talk about specific benefits of yoga when suffering from histamine intolerance.
First of all, yoga will have positive effects no matter what form of histamine intolerance individually troubles you.
The combination of stress reducing and relaxing effects together with the stimulation of circulation will especially benefit those of you who suffer the most from problems connected to the central nervous system.
With some people the problems tend to show more in symptoms connected to the bronchi. The breathing techniques and the cleansing of the lungs that comes with it will benefit you.
Who finds oneself suffering from symptoms connected to the stomach will enjoy the “massage of the organs”. Especially twisted postures will exert mild pressure on the inner organs which helps with digestion among other things.
Improved circulation will also help to get rid of excess histamine and toxins. Itchy or flushy skin will calm down. Yet, if you suffer from severe swelling and/or migraines yoga can sometimes increase these symptoms. Please note that inverted poses (where you are upside down) where there is pressure applied on the head (e.g. headstands) might cause problems to people suffering from migraines. On the other hand, inverted poses in general might help you, e.g. handstand. Avoid inverted postures and forward folds if you are suffering from high blood pressure.
Which yoga style is suitable?
By now there are several yoga styles you can choose from. Some of them meet individual needs and are suitable even if you suffer from certain illnesses (besides histamine intolerance). Bikram yoga which is performed in a hot room though might not be the best choice because the sweating will lead to you not only getting rid of toxins, but also liquids – and you need water. Bikram yoga is also the one yoga style that might put some strain on the heart. An overview of some different yoga styles can be found here: http://www.ekhartyoga.com/everything-yoga/yoga-styles.
Whatever yoga style you might go for, you will already notice mild positive effects after just 1 week if you practice 10 minutes per day. I personally go for a mixture of styles, preferably ashtanga and yin yoga.
Don’t worry if your postures do not look like cover pictures of a yoga magazine or like the ones experienced yogis perform with ease, especially in the beginning. The looks are not what we aim for. The important thing is to keep practicing regularly.
Practice according to your needs and abilities.
Just some postures or flows can already help with your breathing, digestion and with your general well-being.
I personally like guided practices at home. There many yoga videos and tutorials on the internet and in books.
I came to like videos by a Dutch yoga teacher (in English language).
Yoga for digestion
Especially the last pose shown here, even if it seems to be fairly easy, helps me a lot with digestive problems.
More videos by Esther Ekhart can be found here:
Guided training with a teacher in a local yoga studio will propel your practice as the teacher can adjust to your abilities and needs and he or she can also correct your postures or support you in certain postures. At home you are on your own 😉
A little insider tip is the game console. For the Wii there is a game called Wii Fit Plus that also includes some yoga practice. This is more fun than real traditional yoga though 😉
If you have questions or feedback for me why not leave a comment below? Or email me at histaminarm(at)vollbio.de.