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Understanding the benefits of yoga

October 11, 2012

Physical activity and a positive mental attitude are two surefire ways to help reduce the risk of breast cancer.

For those currently diagnosed with cancer, yoga has been shown to reduce stress and increase both sleep and overall quality of life. In fact, cancer survivors have been known to preach the benefits of yoga in terms of their outlook, feelings of positivity and general wellness as they battle their disease.

So, what are the true health benefits of “downward dog” and the overall practice of yoga?

A University of Minnesota expert who can offer insight into yoga’s benefits is:

Miriam Cameron, Ph.D., R.N., Lead Faculty of the Tibetan Healing Initiative (THI), Graduate Faculty at the Center for Spirituality & Healing and instructor of the U of M’s popular “Yoga: Ethics, Spirituality and Healing” course.

“Yoga isn’t just about postures, breathing and relaxation,” said Cameron. “Yoga is an ethical and spiritual way of life to become fully alive, to become integrated within and with the universe. Tibetan medicine teaches us how to create and maintain a healthy mind so that we can live a yogic life.”

According to Cameron, yoga and Tibetan medicine go together. Living with non-violence and compassion is the most important teaching.

Researchers in North America and worldwide have found that the systematic practice of yoga produces many health benefits. For example, yoga can:

  1. Promote concentration, blood and lymph circulation, flexibility, and strength.
  2. Alleviate stress, which reduces the risk for cardio-respiratory disease.
  3. Decrease symptoms of anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  4. Reduce pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome and osteoarthritis.
  5. Bring down the heart rate and normalize blood pressure.
  6. Improve balance and movement after a stroke.

The THI is currently conducting research on how yoga effects depression in students and middle-aged women and how healthy pranayama breathing impacts the body and mind. 

To schedule interviews with Cameron, contact Miranda Taylor, Academic Health Center, at (612) 626-2767 or

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit Views expressed by experts do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: Academic Health Center

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