Yoga: Miracle drug (without the drug part)?

“There is a style of yoga that will meet any physical needs you have. It doesn’t matter what age you are; It takes you where you are, and improves you from there.”

That’s not according to the Yoga Chamber of Commerce. That’s according to 61-year-old Nancy Wren of Matthews, who first relied on yoga to help her through pregnancy — and labor — in the 1970s, and more recently used it to cope with the physical demands and stress of helping her ill husband, and then to help her through the grieving process when he died. Wren is something of a poster child for the several-thousand-year-old practice of yoga, which the Mayo Clinic defines as “an alternative medicine practice [that] brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve peacefulness of body and mind, helping you relax and manage stress and anxiety.”

That “miracle drug” nature of yoga is the topic of my story today in the Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer. Read the story (or return to this space tomorrow for an expanded version with links), then return here for direction on where you can learn more.

Learn more …

Overall health benefits of Yoga
So what are those benefits? The Mayo Clinic gives a good overview in the online article, “Yoga: Tap into the many health benefits.”

Yoga, from Ashtanga to Vinyasa
There are many different variations of yoga on the market. Some, as Chapel Hill-based yoga instructor and writer Carol Krucoff writes for the Huffington Post in “Are You Practicing Yoga or Yoga-Flavored Exercise?” adhere more to basic tenants of yoga. For a good overview of the different types of yoga, check out the Yoga Style Guide.

Yoga and … golf?
Bill Glasheen credits yoga with enabling him to keep his Sunday morning tee-time for the past decade. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 13 years ago, Glasheen, who is 73 and lives in Monroe, turned to yoga to help control the shaking and difficulty walking associated with the disease. “It’s something anyone can do,” he says of the Kripalu yoga class he takes Saturday mornings. “Even if you’re crippled.” Learn more about yoga for golfers at

My achin’ neck
Back pain is one of the most common maladies in America, affecting nearly everyone at one point or another. It affected Carol Krucoff, a yoga practitioner and health writer for the Washington Post in the 1980s. Using what she’d learned from yoga, she began tweaking her practice to address her chronic neck and shoulder issues and before long, no more neck and back issues. She shares her approach in her book, “Healing Yoga for Neck & Shoulder Pain” (2010, New Harbinger Publications).

Yoga and depression
Nancy Nicholson uses yoga in her social work practice — or does she use social work in her yoga practice? The Charlotte instructor uses her background in both — she’s a licensed clinical social worker in North Carolina and is certified in various forms of yoga, including her LifeForce Yoga Certification — to help patients suffering from addictions, anxiety, abuse, depression and grief. “We use different breathing techniques to create more energy and to help you calm down. … The movements can be very grounding.” Learn more about yoga and its applications for dealing with mental health issues at

Yoga and weight loss?
You don’t burn a lot of calories with most forms of yoga, but some practitioners say it can have a more profound effect on your weight by helping to strengthen the mind-body connection. See what WebMD has to say on the subject.

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