Yoga is briefly defined as a series of exercises and movements that create increased flexibility and strength. It is based on a variety of postures and breathing techniques. Yoga can provide both physical and mental benefits of people of all ages. It may be used on a routine basis to promote a more healthy lifestyle or as a rehab tool after surgery or illness.
The health benefits of yoga are numerous:
• Yoga can be helpful in providing relief of back pain through gains of increased flexibility, postural awareness and muscle strength. It is best used initially with a certified instructor or advice of a physical therapist.
• Arthritis pain may be reduced with yoga by increasing flexibility and blood flow to inflamed joints.
• Overall health and mental well being can be improved by yoga practice as it may help to relieve stress, weight loss and even hypertension.
• Balance can be improved with yoga which is especially important to the older populations as it may help to limit falls which can result in life changing bone fractures and head injury.
• Athletes of all ages and levels can use yoga to improve balance to help optimize performance.
• Strength benefits can be achieved with yoga by focusing on core strengthening as the foundation. It is very effective in athletes when used in conjunction with other strength training programs such as Pilates and weight lifting.
• Flexibility will improve with routine yoga stretches which in the older population can reduce joint pain and improve quality of life. The younger population will benefit from increased flexibility and overall increased physical exercise.
• Bone density can be improved with yoga in as little as 12 months particularly when performing routines that call for postures to be held for longer periods of time. This may help to prevent fragility fractures in certain populations.
• These are just a small sampling of the defined benefits of Yoga and movement exercises. As with any exercise program it is best to be informed of the most appropriate program for the individual by a certified instructor.
• Yoga is available locally through private studios or public locations. It is also available on line for no cost.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.