It’s a positive development that over the past few decades that people have begun to take a more active part in their health care. Whether this stems from disappointment with conventional medical treatment or simply a desire to have more control over their lives, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
We all know how well massage works to elevate the immune system and fight stress, but if massage is combined with yoga, you get a multiplied positive effect. Both yoga and massage help to counter one of the most damaging aspects of modern life: stress.
Chipping Away at Health
Nearly everyone living in modern society is subjected to nearly constant stress. Possibly only the very wealthy who have retired from active acquisition and are just enjoying life are able to live without stress. For most of us, however, stress is an unwelcome and persistent companion, taking away a bit of our wellbeing and health every day.
Stress causes the body to release cortisol, which is fine in small doses for dealing with an immediate danger, such as reacting fast when you’re about to be run down by a truck. However, the unrelenting release of cortisol due to stress can cause cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. It will also harm the body’s immune system, leaving you much more likely to become ill, especially from bacterial or viral pathogens.
Although it’s possible to visit your physician and get a prescription for ‘goof-balls’ of some kind, becoming dependent on mood altering medication is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some of these medications have serious and sometimes irreversible side effects as well, so finding a way to deal with stress without drugs is best.
The Benefits of Yoga
Like massage, yoga can promote a sense of relaxation and wellbeing. In one sense, simply because you will be concentrating on yoga, your everyday worries will be overridden. However, yoga will help to relax you also because it will help to release more gamma-aminobutyric acid, GABA, into your system. People who have low levels of GABA are much more likely to be depressed or anxious, so increasing the amount will help to lift the mood.
Many of us, especially as we become older, do not exercise as much as we should. This can have very serious effects on the health, including damaging the cardiovascular system and causing the muscles to shorten, which will eventually impede mobility. Yoga is perfect for increasing both the circulation of blood and the flexibility of the body. And, because yoga is a great way to exercise, it also helps with weight reduction.
There can hardly be anything more relaxing and soothing than a massage. When under the hands of a skilled masseur, you will feel the day’s troubles and stresses melt away. Tight, painful muscles will unbend, and the discomfort of strains and pinched nerves will evaporate.
Part of the reason why you will feel so good during and after a massage is because massage helps to release more endorphins into the system. These neurotransmitters help us to become relaxed and happier. Endorphins will create a feeling of euphoria.
Massage also can strengthen your immune system. Daily battles with heavy traffic, nasty bosses, and assorted sticky beaks can leave us stressed out. Stress causes the adrenal gland to produce cortisol, which can harm the body if some relief is not found – and relief can be gotten from a professional massage. Relaxation from a massage will send cortisol levels down fast, and help your immune system do what it is supposed to do; kill off pathogenic invaders and keep the body free from toxins.
The Chicken or the Egg?
Arguments can be made for having a massage before your practice yoga or afterwards. However, rather than get into an endless ‘chicken or the egg’ argument, why not have one at both ends of the yoga session? Getting a massage before you begin working out is a good way to get the body warmed up and the muscles loosened, which will make the workout much more productive.
A massage post-yoga is another good idea. This will provide an augmented relaxation that will help you cope with life’s difficulties for days afterwards. The combined effects of massage and yoga will not only help you feel more relaxed, but you will find yourself sleeping better at night, more energized during the day, and much less likely to experience headaches and other annoying pains.
Setting a day aside for yoga and massage can have more of an impact on your life than you might have thought possible – try it, you will be surprised at how good you feel.