The Health Jungle

How we are affected by our surroundings - and the things we do and don´t do

Yoga Therapy – a powerful tool to treat both mental and physical conditions

Yoga can be a powerful tool to treat both mental and physical conditions. This article will give an overview over how different conditions can be treated with Yoga Therapy – and especially Viniyoga Theraphy.

When you work with both physical and mental conditions in Viniyoga Therapy, the starting point is that people are multidimensional beings. Examples of these dimensions are anatomy, physiology and psychology, but also family, society and environment. According to the yoga teachings, everything that affects one of these levels also affects the other ones. For example, if your body is stressed this will affect your mind and therefore also quite possible the people around you. As a result of this, the focus in Viniyoga Therapy is to treat the whole human being.

“Yoga therapy is less about the disease and more about the person suffering from the disease.” Gary Kraftsow

In Yoga Therapy, you can work with a person in numerous ways. The one that the public usually think of when they hear the word yoga is yoga poses (asanas). In Viniyoga Therapy, the focus is on breath centric asanas. This means that the movements are connected to the breath in special ways. But yoga is much more than poses. Also meditation, chanting and breath work (pranayama) are important parts of yoga. Breathwork can be very powerful. Because of this, breath work should only be practiced with a certified instructor (at least in the beginning) since it can affect both the body and mind. Also exercise and diet changes can be part of a viniyoga therapeutical perspective. Yoga therapy can also be a very effective complement to other treatments for different conditions.

There is no one right way to treat a condition according to Viniyoga Therapy. Even if there are some general ideas about how to treat different conditions, the treatment can vary a lot from person to person. The reason for this is because everybody – and everybody’s disease – is different. Because of this the exact same treatment may not work for two different people. It also varies from person to person where to start the treatment. In viniyoga therapy it is important to “meet the person where he or she is” when you start the treatment.

The next blog article will focus on why yoga both can increase the energy and be calming. And the two articles after will give an overview over  how depression and anxiety can be treated with Viniyoga Therapy.


In may 2017, Gary Kraftsow held a weekend seminar in Seattle about how to treat depression and anxiety with Viniyoga Therapy. This article is mainly based on parts of the seminar.  Gary Kraftsow is the founder of the American Viniyoga institute. According to the American Viniyoga institute “Yoga Therapy refers to the adaptation and application of Yoga techniques and practices to help individuals facing health challenges at any level manage their condition”. Yoga therapy can be used to treat both physical and mental conditions. You can read more about Gary Kraftsow, viniyoga and viniyoga therapy here.


Note: This article is not meant to be a guideline for how to treat different conditions with Viniyoga Therapy. It should rather be seen as an overview – and not as a treatment plan! If you suffer from a serious condition you are advised to contact your doctor. Never dis­re­gard pro­fes­sional med­ical advice or delay in seek­ing it because of some­thing you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. See full disclaimer here!


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Seminar with Gary Kraftsow about treating anxiety & depression with Yoga Therapy. Seattle, May 19-21 2017.

Kraftsow, Gary (1999) Yoga for Wellness: Healing with the Timeless Teachings of Viniyoga

Yoga and Meditation affect your genes

Yoga and meditation can affect how your genes are expressed. Together with other relaxing exercises, these activities seem to reverse some of the stress-related changes in the genes. Especially the genes linked to overall poor health and depression seem to be positively affected by these activities.

According to a new scientific review, different mind-body exercises can actually affect how your genes are expressed. In the study, British researchers focused on the biological effects of different mind-body exercises such as yoga (poses), meditation, breathing exercises, qigong and tai chi. The study is a review of 18 earlier published studies, altogether including 846 people.

According to this study the activities appear to suppress the expression of the genes that promote inflammation. Studies have shown that chronic inflammation is linked to many common diseases today – both physical and mental ones.

During the last years, more and more studies have shown that both the environment and lifestyle can affect if genes are active or inactive. This research field is is called epigenetics. According to epigenetic research you are not “doomed” to get a disease even if you have ‘the gene(s)’ for developing it. During the last years, many studies have shown that the environment and your lifestyle choices seem to be of the greatest importance if you develop a disease or not – even if you have the gene(s). This is because both the environment and the lifestyle affect if the genes are activated or not.

Even just 15 minutes of practicing mind-body exercises seem to affect the gene expression positively according to the new study.

Buric, I., Farias M., Jong J., Mee, C. Brazil I. (2017) What Is the Molecular Signature of Mind–Body Interventions? A Systematic Review of Gene Expression Changes Induced by Meditation and Related Practices. Frontiers in Immunology, 16 June 2017,

Our lifestyle affects how our genes are expressed

Just because some diseases are common in your family, it does not mean that you too automatically will suffer from them. In recent years, more and more research has shown that your lifestyle has great impact on which information that is activated in your genes. The expression of the genes has  shown to be of great importance if you develop a disease or not. This research field is known as epigenetics. Continue reading

Why an hour of exercise can’t make up for sitting still all day

Sitting still for too long can make you sick. Alongside e.g. unhealthy food, lack of exercise, smoking and stress, sitting still for too long is also considered a risk factor for lifestyle diseases.

Sitting still for to long affects the body negatively in numerous ways. You can read more about these negative effects here. Earlier, the opinion was that exercise could make up for sitting a lot during the rest of the day. Research however, show that this not seem to be the case.

The reason for this is that sitting still and lack of exercise is two different variables for health – and both of them have been proven to increase the risk of several common diseases. So even if you otherwise are physically active, sitting down for long periods of time affects your health negatively. According to the research, it is very important not to mix up these two variables – as often has been done in the past. This is relatively new information and means that some exercise during the evening does not compensate for a long day of sitting down.

This however certainly does not mean that you should stop exercising, but in addition to your exercise try not to sit still for too long. Even short periods of movements have proven a positive effect for the overall health.



“Dirty Dozen” 2017

Strawberries contain the largest amount of pesticides – if they are non-organic.

Also this year strawberries top the “Dirty Dozen” list. This is a list of the twelve non-organic fruits and vegetables that contain the most pesticides. See the whole list below.


DIRTY DOZEN 2017 – the non-organic fruits and vegetables containing the most pesticides

1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Nectarines
4. Apples
5. Peaches
6. Pears
7. Cherries
8. Grapes
9. Celery
10. Tomatoes
11. Sweet bell pepper
12. Potatoes
Bonus: Hot peppers


On the other hand, “Clean Fifteen” lists the 15 “cleanest” non-organic fruits and vegetables, ie those containing the smallest amount of pesticides and toxins. You can find the  Clean Fifteen list for 2017 here.

The lists are compiled by the Environmental Working Group, EWG. During the last years EWG has yearly up-dated the lists.



“Clean Fifteen” 2017

The amounts of pesticides and toxins can vary widely in different kinds of non-organic fruits and vegetables. As a result, the Environmental Working Group, EWG, yearly tests how much chemicals conventionally grown fruits and vegetables contain.

Based on the results, EWG has designed two lists, called “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen”. Included in the list “Dirty Dozen” are the twelve non-organic fruits and vegetables that contain the most pesticides. On the other hand, “Clean Fifteen” lists the 15 “cleanest” non-organic fruits and vegetables, ie those containing the smallest amount of pesticides and toxins. The lists have been updated yearly in recent years. Below you can find the “Clean Fifteen” list  for 2017.


CLEAN FIFTEEN 2017 – the non-organic fruits and vegetables containing a the smallest amount of pesticides.

  1. Sweet corn*
  2. Avocados
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Sweet peas (frozen)
  7. Papayas*
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangos
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew Melon
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Grapefruit

*EWG warns that a small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from genetically modified seeds.

In the next blog post, the “Dirty Dozen” will be presented.



Welcome to the Health Jungle!

This blog will focus on how we are affected by different things in our surroundings – and the things we do and don´t do. The name the Health Jungle was chosen because it often feels like getting through a jungle to find reliable information about how our health is affected. The blog posts will be based on research and various studies.

The Health Jungle is the English version of the Swedish blog Hälsodjungeln, which was founded in the autumn 2016.

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