If you’ve been thinking about working a little yoga into your workout, I’d like to encourage you to give it a try.
Yoga has benefits for almost everyone, no matter your age, fitness goals or current physical health. Whether you’re a seasoned marathon runner or a couch potato looking to get back in shape, a teenager wanting to bliss out before a test or a senior citizen seeking to gain strength, you can find something to like about yoga.
Why You Should Try It
1) Yoga can help you feel better emotionally. Deep breathing and concentration during poses help cultivate mindfulness. This shifts your awareness to your senses instead of what you need to pick up at the grocery store, which goes a long way toward alleviating worry and stress.
In addition, some studies have shown that yoga can have a positive effect on depression, anxiety, ADHD and even schizophrenia.
2) Yoga delivers benefits immediately and continues to over time. This can help you stay motivated. After a yoga workout, you’ll likely feel more relaxed and as you practice over months and years you’ll become stronger.
4) Yoga can increase your flexibility. It won’t happen overnight, but yoga can gently relax and stretch muscles, which can help you move easier, have less pain and maintain better posture.
5) Yoga makes you stronger. Poses help reinforce the muscles around the spine, which provide a solid foundation from which the body operates. Stretching and holding poses allows muscles to lengthen, helping to give the body a stronger, leaner look.
6) Yoga might help you avoid or lessen the impact of chronic conditions, such as arthritis, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety or insomnia.
Try a Class
While yoga DVDs and apps are plentiful, I recommend beginners try classes first to learn the correct way to do some basic poses. Committing to a class often helps with your willpower, too.
Yoga classes are plentiful in the community. Start slowly and find a teacher you like. The best teachers offer adaptations if a pose is too challenging or not challenging enough. Remember, yoga is not a competitive sport. Be sure you listen to your body.
Check in with Your Doctor First
While yoga taught by a trained instructor is safe for most people, you should check with your doctor if you have a health condition. Be especially careful if you have:
- Risk of blood clots
- Severe osteoporosis
- Herniated disk or other disk problems
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
Pregnant women can do many yoga poses, but be sure to get cleared by your doctor first.
Do you practice yoga? What is your favorite pose?
Dr. Lee Bar-Eli is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Meyerland Plaza Clinic. Her clinical interests include chronic disease management, women’s health and adolescent medicine. One of her interests outside of work is yoga.