Monday, December 2, 2013

Benefits of Yoga

Blog contributed by Bethany Rhoads PA-C, Camp Hill Evening Care

It seems that if anything has been practiced and has lasted for more than 5,000 years, then there must be good reason for it.  Yoga is one such tradition. As a health care practitioner, I encourage yoga to my patients for many reasons, the first one being that almost anyone can do it!  There are many different types of yoga that make it suitable for almost anyone. The most general concept and purpose of yoga is to “bring mind and body together.”  Mental health is just as important as physical health, and I believe this frequently gets overlooked in our society.  We are so busy with our jobs, raising our families, and trying to squeeze in exercise that often stress management and our mental clarity gets pushed to the wayside. The three main components of yoga are breathing, meditation and exercise. As mentioned, there are multiple types of yoga, but the one most commonly practiced in the US is hatha yoga. 

There are many benefits of practicing yoga.  Medically, yoga has been proven to reduce the pain and improve the activities of daily living associated with chronic pain, decrease blood pressure and heart rate, and also improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. There are approximately 100 million American adults that suffer from chronic pain, 67 million with high blood pressure, and 54 million with anxiety/depression disorders.  This means that up to 200 million Americans , or about 60% of our population, could possibly benefit from incorporating the practice of yoga into their lives!

The best way to introduce yourself to yoga is to visit a studio in your area and attend a class.  You can also follow an introductory DVD or even catch it onDemand if you have cable.  As was mentioned, yoga is suitable for ALMOST anyone.  Pregnant women or people with other concerning health conditions should talk to their primary care provider before beginning such an exercise regimen.  However, keep in mind the breathing techniques and meditation that go along with the physical component of yoga can always be done by itself and still have health benefits!

I will leave you with the greeting that typically begins and ends  a yoga class- “Namaste.”  This translates to “I bow to you.”  So, Namaste, and I hope I have encouraged you to try yoga soon!

 Sources: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
American Yoga Association
Center for Disease Control and Prevention


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