By Valerie Zavalla



We all have known ANGELS IN DISGUISE - the ones who have been there when we needed them the most. I hope they know a lot better than we mortals how to take care of their bodies. The only thing most of us know about our bodies is what to buy to make them look better and how to treat them when they finally get our attention through illness or disease. We are at a loss as to how we can help ourselves deal with (in a somewhat celestial fashion) this fast-paced stress-oriented culture.

If you want to get "back in shape", reduce stress, and diminish the general aches and pains that we have come to accept as part of life, but you firmly resist going to one more health club, jogging one more step, or trying to keep up with one more exercise video, YOGA is probably just what the doctor ordered! Think of yoga as your own GUARDIAN ANGEL, helping you to oil this piece of rusty machinery and keep it running smoothly.

This ancient system of relaxation and rejuvenation originated in India approximately 6,000 years ago. While there are many kinds of yoga, Hatha Yoga, a low-impact technique, is the most popular. It uses movement, breath, and relaxation as a means to reach maximum ANGELIC physical and emotional health. Every part of the body, including the internal organs, is strengthened and toned. Learning to breathe properly and controlling the breath increases the energy in the body and calms the mind. The focus on guided exercises relieves stress and helps to clarify thinking. Yoga teaches us to respect our body and we begin to develop a different relationship with it. Just as we would treat an ANGEL with deep respect, so we begin to treat this total organism of ours - mind and body, in a healthy manner.

The American Medical Association reports that 80% of all diseases are stress related. Yoga is a very simple, yet profound, stress management technique. Instead of "fighting" or "fleeing" from stress, we can learn to flow with it! Every body can do yoga. Even ANGELS. It's fun and it feels great!

Since the early 1970's, there have been more than 1,000 well-designed studies of yoga, demonstrating its effectiveness in stress and anxiety alleviation, improved memory and intelligence, reduction of pain, improved motor skills and flexibility, relief from addictions, lessening of arthritic and back pain, heightened visual and auditory perceptions, and enhanced metabolic and respiratory functions. Dean Ornish, author of Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease, uses yoga as an integral part of his five-point reversal plan. He found that patients with severe heart disease who followed his program had a 91% reduction in chest pains within two weeks. Within a year, they had actually managed to reduce artery blockages.

As with anything, in order for it to work, you have to do it. Will it work for you? Try it and see. It doesn't require anything other than comfortable clothes and a willing attitude. Go to your limit but don't ever do anything that your body says it shouldn't do! You and your ANGELS alone know what's happening in your body. Respect it!

Dianne Harmon, certified Yoga instructor, and Valerie Zavalla, R.N., are co-owners of Yoga Arts, located at 7266 Edinger Ave., Suite F (behind Lamps Plus) in Huntington Beach. For more information, call (714) 375-0035.

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