Yoga: The Pros and The Cons

This past weekend, I attended a Massachusetts charity event for the “Warrior Within Yoga Project”. This organization provides free yoga classes for veterans and first responders (and their families) across Massachusetts.

There is much scientific evidence that yoga supports stress management, mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss and better sleep. It improves energy and vitally through it’s deep breathing exercises. This was my first time participating in a yoga class and I can honestly say that yoga is not for the ‘faint of heart’. I thought that the ‘Downward Dog Pose’ was challenging because it requires a great deal of upper body strength, which I do not possess. The class performed more challenging yoga positions that involved squatting and being on all 4′s, which I found painful for my knees. On a more positive note, I found the “Big Toe and Bridge Poses easy to perform. Besides stretching and strengthening the hip extensors,the yoga instructor told us that these positions help to relieve anxiety and support optimal blood pressure levels. My favorite pose was the ‘Corpse Pose” which was done at the conclusion of the class. This pose helps to manage stress by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation.

I would like to incorporate the “Raised arm and Standing Forward Bend” poses along with high lunge poses into my physical therapy practice since they are relatively easy to perform in the standing position. These standing postures support respiration, hamstring, quadriceps and shoulder mobility and strength. When treating patients with osteoporosis, care must be taken not to overly flex and rotate the spine to avoid vertebral fractures.

Chair yoga classes are ideal for those who want the benefits of yoga but have ‘sensitive joints”. Yoga classes can be found at your local Y, community center or private yoga studio. When doing yoga at home (online), be sure to create a space that is clutter and distraction free. Having an empty wall near you to hold onto when performing the standing poses would be beneficial. Adding candles or incense will help to create a calm peaceful space.

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