Inflammation and Our Health

I am especially grateful for the connection with those of you who take classes regularly.

We seem to be on a pretty magical healing journey together.

Themes emerge spontaneously.  Questions come up.  Connections are made.  We all grow together.

One of the themes from the last week or two (or three?) has been the topic of inflammation.

This is not a brand new idea for us; our book Hope for Autoimmune Disease danced with the topic through the 15 health narratives that we documented.

But this theme is becoming louder and more prominent lately.  The highlights:

1. A couple of weeks ago I ran into a physiology research article linking somatic (i.e. bodily) inflammatory markers to depression.  (The researchers were very surprised; they had been looking in the brain itself for decades, and then found a marker in the body).

2. A few students have pulled me aside this month to share with me the typical yet major symptomatic relief they are experiencing.  And a reduction in inflammation seems to be at the root.

3. In late March, I read the book On Learning To Heal: Or, What Medicine Doesn’t Know (Ed Cohen, 2023).  That may have been what ignited this month’s brightly burning fire, now that I think back. It was a jaw droppingly exciting read for me, and we are pondering our next mini book club.

4. I got curious about atherosclerosis this past weekend and found out that it is primarily a disease of inflammation.

5. Today I skimmed the webpages of the Cleveland Clinic, Harvard, and one of the national institutes for environmental health…and…well … inflammation is implicated in everything from Alzheimer’s to autoimmune to cardiovascular disease, and so much more.

6. Last night in class, I said to everyone, “What if instead of inviting people to do yoga with you, you asked them to accompany you to an anti-inflammatory practice?!” And today, one of our new students came in on that very invitation!

7. I know from two decades of practice, teaching, listening, interviewing, writing, and observing…that the Original Hot Yoga (Bikram Yoga) is most definitely an anti-inflammatory practice.  From what I have learned from my yoga students and colleagues, it appears to greatly exceed the anti-inflammatory properties of “exercise” or the mainstream American yoga-fitness practices that these students have also practiced.

8. Yet we swim in the cultural soup of inflammatory foods often from the moment we are born!  Just think school lunches, and the majority of the American diet.  We seem to be far from understanding – or  recommending – this yoga method as an anti-inflammatory salve in any sort of far-reaching, mainstream way.

Yet I am here to get the process started!  Thank you for being on this magical yoga bus ride with me.  We are really going places and it is so exciting!!

These are my thoughts for the evening, April 25, 2023.

They are not complete – thank goodness! – and this is not a polished essay.  But all this and more circulates through yoga classes on a regular basis.  I miss those of you who have been away.  We are learning and growing so much, and reducing inflammation while we are at it.

I hope to see you in class soon!