Yoga has gained popularity because of its ability to reduce back pain, relax tight muscles, relieve stress and exercise in a safe calm environment. Developed thousands of years ago, the practice of breathing, posing and stretching offers a variety of important health benefits. As a chiropractor, I’m often asked about the practice of yoga. Those with back pain or have undergone spine surgery want to know if yoga can help them improve their physical and psychological health.
- Reduced stress
- Improved blood pressure
- Increased flexibility
- Increased stamina
- Greater balance
- Improved breathing techniques
In addition to the normal exercise benefits yoga offers, the practice serves as therapy for a variety of injuries and health conditions. Yoga embodies the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness, and touches upon other forms of traditional exercise. The concept that yoga heals the body in its entirety mirrors chiropractic care. These foundations offer enormous benefits to those dealing with a variety of injuries and conditions. By incorporating yoga, individuals are able to reap amazing rewards.
A regular exercise plan needs to include a little cardio as there are huge benefits from pumping the heart rate up. Minimal loading exercises, like biking, and swimming are great. Pain can be managed by participating in cardiovascular exercises, however, yoga’s gentleness can complement the healing process.
Here are a few reasons:
Prepares the body for healing
Practicing yoga stretches and elongates the body’s muscles, releasing tension and stress. It can serve to warm up the body and clear the mind, so a chiropractor can get to the root problem. Yoga complements chiropractic treatment by preparing the body to heal itself.
Strengthens joints and ligaments
Dealing with a health condition or injury is frustrating and can seem like it takes forever to heal. Implementing yoga into a recovery plan helps strengthen joints and ligaments, which aids in promoting healing and cutting down the time it takes to get better. Yoga works on the body as a whole and promotes greater well-being from head to toe. A stronger body offers more productivity than one that is stiff, sore, and unhealthy.
Increases range of motion
Depending on the individual’s specific condition, individuals may need a few visits to prepare their bodies before the main issue can be addressed. Yoga sessions increase a body’s flexibility and help with the range of motion in the neck, back, hips, and other joints.
Yoga provides a continual way for individuals dealing with chronic conditions to manage and reduce pain, inflammation, and other symptoms. Yoga combined with chiropractic keeps the body aligned, balanced, muscles stretched, de-stressed, and the joints working properly.
Both also serve to keep posture correct, and ligaments strong. All of this creates a body that is less susceptible to future injury, illness, and stress. Individuals enjoy increased mobility for a lot longer without changing lifestyle.
The Best Way to Start
There are many different types of yoga. Most sessions usually last an hour and include breathing exercises, meditation and holding poses/postures that stretch and tone muscle groups.
To help visualize how yoga can help the spine, here’s an analogy:
Think of the spine like a cookie ice cream sandwich with the ice cream in-between and a gummy band wrapped around. The cookies represent the vertebrae, the ice cream is the disc cushion in between and the gummy band represents the ligament and muscles surrounding the area.
The tighter the gummy band is, the more it compresses the cookies and applies pressure to the ice cream. When stretching the gummy band, it loosens the pressure on the cookies and reduces the load/compression of the ice cream.
Exercise is crucial for recovery and rehabilitation. Yoga is a gentle way to get you back on your feet. It promotes circulation, relaxation, strength, and flexibility. Pure plane movements meaning moving forward then backward in basic movements are essential until the body becomes more flexible. Move carefully forward, sideways and cautiously backward.
- At the beginning no movements combining bending and twisting.
- The muscles need to adapt and become comfortable with these movements at first. Therefore, hold poses for at least 30 seconds without bouncing minimizing potential injury.
Ask your doctor or chiropractor if they can recommend a certified yoga instructor; preferably with 500 hours of instruction. Search for small class sizes and a teacher that closely monitors movements and poses closely. It is important that the instructor be aware and make gentle adjustments or offer modifications to participants as needed.
Start off with a type known as Restorative Flow. It restores the flow from one part of the body to another with slow controlled movements/poses that emphasize stretching and correct breathing.
Listen to Your Body
When healing from injury/s, take it slow. Listen to your body and let it guide your movements so that it feels safe and comfortable. Do not push beyond. For most, a beginner or restorative Yoga class is best. Ask about modifying the poses so that the bending and twisting combinations/advanced postures are taken out so as not to overload the joints.
If you are on a budget consider purchasing an instructional DVD. DVD’s offer program variations of 20 to 60 minutes and are highly educational and easy to follow. Stretching pain/soreness is okay, but sharp pain is not.
Yoga could be an answer to many of the body’s issues, whether dealing with current conditions or just want to stay healthy in a new way check out the basics of yoga. Chiropractic coupled with yoga offers great benefits to those dealing with medical conditions or injury. Ask your chiropractor for an evaluation, and if adding yoga to your health program will help.
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