Yoga helps to create balance in busy lives

Ibby Whitten

For the past five years, Elizabeth (Ibby) Whitten has had a history of high blood pressure and was prescribed medication to help lower it to a normal range.

But the medication – along with a proper diet – just didn’t do the trick. Her average reading in years past has been 136/98.

After talking with her doctor and doing her own homework reading studies on the benefits of far infrared heat on cardiovascular problems, Ibby decided to give Yoga a try at YAM. The studies showed that regular far-infrared therapy can help tone the cardiovascular system, improving circulation and oxygenation while lowering blood pressure.

She refuses to believe it’s mere coincidence that her Yoga practice, attending classes 1-2 times a week over the past four months, has helped drop her blood pressure.

“I began to notice changes in my body,” says Ibby, 47, chief financial officer at North Carolina Outward Bound. “I was not only getting stronger, I had lost weight and was getting better daily blood pressure readings. At first, I thought that maybe there was something wrong with my machine. I replaced the batteries and I tested it on my husband and kids … It was definitely working.

“I went to my doctor for a follow-up visit recently – my blood pressure was 116/78. I couldn’t believe it. I asked them to take it again and they confirmed that it is the best it’s been in five years,” Ibby says.

Ibby and her doctor are currently working on a plan to reduce over time the amount of medication she is taking. The plan includes diet, exercise (including yoga) and mindfulness activities like meditation.

“I started my practice at YAM with the simple goal of carving out some positive, healthy space for myself during my busy work week,” says Ibby, who juggles a demanding, full-time job with raising two active girls with her husband, Bradley Jones. “I made a conscious decision to bring it back into my life even if it meant going on a laundry strike at home. Now the kids say, ‘Mom’s yoga means we have to do our own laundry!’ So my practice has already brought about surprisingly unexpected positive changes in the family.”

Ibby also manages to carve out time for her other hobbies: riding her horse, mountain biking with Bradley and the kids, reading, cooking and weaving on her loom.

But it’s the yoga that brings more balance to her busy life. “I truly believe that regular yoga practice helps me reduce stress and be more mindful of how my body reacts to stressful situations at work and the daily 45-minute commute to my offices in East Asheville. Sometimes all I need is a simple breathing exercise to reduce tension.

“I am truly grateful to be a member of the YAM community,” Ibby says. “Thank you to Averee and her team for creating such an affirming, dynamic, healthy community!”