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The Power of Yoga and Stretching

People have practiced yoga as a mental, physical and spiritual discipline for 3,000 years. Long-time practitioners recognize the benefits of yoga in building strength, balance, endurance, and harmony in both the mind and body. Fortunately, even beginners and those who incorporate only a few yoga poses can benefit from this addition to their daily routine.

While many different types of yoga exist, most involve controlled breathing, mental focus or meditation, and various stretching or flexing body poses.

Physical Benefits of Yoga

Yoga practice is associated with many physical and emotional or mental benefits. Examples of physical benefits include reduction of back pain, arthritis, headaches, high blood pressure and insomnia, among others. Additional physical benefits of yoga include:

  • Increased muscle strength and flexibility
  • Improved energy
  • Weight reduction
  • Improved circulation
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Management of chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma

Yoga Poses to Help Relieve Back Pain

Specific yoga poses are associated the certain physical benefits. For example, to help reduce tight muscles in the back and related back pain, try a twice-daily routine that incorporates the following poses to improve posture and relax the back. Right after you wake up, start with Incorporating a twice-daily yoga routine can help improve poster and relieve back pain. Practice the poses upon waking in the morning and again in the afternoon. Start in Downward-Facing Dog, one of the most widely recognized yoga poses. Then move into Plank, and lower into a modified plank pose called Chaturanga Dandasana. Then finish in Upward Dog. Repeat twice.

Mental Benefits of Yoga

The negative effects of long-term stress are well known, and may include heart disease, high blood pressure, headaches, back and neck pain, drug abuse and depression. Psychologically, yoga helps to cultivate mindfulness, to focusing the mind in the present moment by shifting mental awareness to the sensations of a given pose or exercise. This discipline can help to reduce negative thinking patterns and cultivate a sense of focus, body awareness, ease and well-being.

Anyone Can Benefit from the Power of Yoga and Stretching

Whether you are an athlete or rarely leave your favorite recliner, your level of fitness does not matter because yoga practice is adaptable to anyone. For example, yoga practice does not need to occur on a mat on the floor. Instead, for those not easily able to get down on and up off of the floor, yoga practice can take place in a chair. See an example in this 17-minute video.

For an inspirational story about how daily yoga practice helped to transform the life of Arthur, an injured veteran who could not walk without crutches and leg braces, see this short video.

If you are new to yoga and would like to give it a try, there are many ways to get started. Books and videos can show you how to practice the poses and stretches at home. Joining a class at a local yoga studio or community center offers the benefits of learning with an instructor, as well as the social connection of meeting other students with similar interests.

Consult your healthcare provider before starting yoga if you have such conditions as a herniated disc, severe balance problems, severe osteoporosis, pain with certain movements or other chronic conditions.

At ChiroCenter, a number of our doctors of chiropractic also practice yoga. Visit our website to learn how chiropractic can help to address many health conditions without medication.

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