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The Physiology of Yoga

The Physiology of Yoga

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While many people practice yoga simply because it helps them feel good, the physiological basis for yoga’s effects on the body and mind is often unknown or misunderstood. Understanding these physiological concepts can help to deepen your yoga practice.

The Physiology of Yoga separates speculation from fact by examining how the body responds and adapts to yoga within many systems of the body:: musculoskeletal, nervous, respiratory, cardiovascular, lymphatic, immune, endocrine, reproductive, and digestive. Straightforward explanations guide you in sorting through conflicting information about what yoga really can help you achieve and in evaluating whether certain yoga methods provide benefits to any or all of those systems.

You can experiment with concepts through Try It Yourself sidebars, which focus on mindful movement, meditation, and breathing. The 14 Myth or Fact sidebars explore popular claims about yoga, such as whether a shoulder stand can stimulate the thyroid or if twists can detoxify the liver. You’ll get the most current research to determine the validity of various claims so you can avoid practices that could be harmful or counterproductive and can decide for yourself what works for your practice.

Finally, experience firsthand how yoga affects your physiology by exploring specific yoga poses and four sequences. Each sequence explains which of the physiological principles from the earlier chapters may be most prevalent in that sequence.

With The Physiology of Yoga, you or your students can navigate all the conflicting views and opinions about the impact of yoga and learn to practice yoga while fully enjoying the benefits of mindful movement.

CE exam available! For certified professionals, a companion continuing education exam can be completed after reading this book. The Physiology of Yoga Online CE Exam may be purchased separately or as part of The Physiology of Yoga With CE Exam package that includes both the book and the exam.
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  • Chapter 1. Musculoskeletal System
    Tendons, Ligaments, and Aponeuroses
    The Science of Stretching and Flexibility
    Pathologies, Injuries, and Conditions

    Chapter 2. Nervous System
    Cells of the Nervous System
    Central Nervous System
    Peripheral Nervous System
    Nervous System Conditions

    Chapter 3. Respiratory System
    Anatomy and Physiology of the Respiratory System
    The Biomechanics of Quiet Breathing
    All About the Diaphragm
    Forced Exhalation and Inhalation
    Atmospheric Air and Expelled Air
    Good, Wholesome Oxygen?
    Ujjayi Breathing
    Nose Breathing and Mouth Breathing
    The Psychological and Physiological Effects of Pranayama and Slow Breathing
    Pathologies and Conditions of the Respiratory System

    Chapter 4. Cardiovascular System
    Role of the Cardiovascular System in Maintaining Homeostasis
    Resting Heart Rate and Cardiac Output
    Heart Rate Variability
    Blood Pressure
    Cardiovascular Conditions

    Chapter 5. Lymphatic and Immune Systems
    Lymphatic System
    Immune System

    Chapter 6. Endocrine System
    What Is a Hormone?
    Cortisol: The Master Hormone
    Thyroid Hormones
    Endorphins: Our Body’s Morphine

    Chapter 7. Reproductive System
    Female Reproductive System Anatomy
    Female Reproductive System Physiology
    Male Reproductive System
    Reproductive System Conditions

    Chapter 8. Digestive System
    Anatomy and Physiology of the Digestive System
    Diet and the Digestive System
    Pathologies and Gastrointestinal Problems

    Chapter 9. Practice With Confidence
    Strong, Dynamic Practice
    Slow Hatha Practice
    Chair Yoga Practice
    Restorative Yoga Practice
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