The Benefits of Yoga
Like yoga, the osteopathic approach to wellness focuses on your body's natural tendency toward health and self-healing.
"The purpose of yoga is to create strength, awareness, and harmony in both mind and body," explains Natalie Nevins, DO, a Board Certified Osteopathic Family Physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California.
Although there are more than 100 different types, or yoga schools, most sessions usually include breathing exercises, meditation and assume postures (sometimes called asanas or postures) that stretch and flex various muscle groups.
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"As an osteopathic physician, I focused a lot of my efforts on preventive medicine and practices, and on the body's ability to heal itself," says Dr. Nevins. "Yoga is a great tool to stay healthy because it is based on similar principles."
"The relaxation techniques built into yoga can reduce chronic pain, such as back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome," explains Dr. Nevins. "Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia."
Other physical benefits of yoga include:
Increased muscle strength and tone
Improved breathing, energy and vitality
Maintain a balanced metabolism
Cardio and circulatory health
Better sports performance
Protection against injury
Apart from the physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress, which is known to have devastating effects on the body and mind. "Stress can be revealed in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleep problems, headaches, drug abuse and an inability to concentrate," says Dr. Nevins. "Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and attaining a more positive outlook on life."
Incorporating yoga meditation and breathing can help improve a person's mental well-being. "Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and tranquility, increases body awareness, relieves chronic stress patterns, relaxes the mind, focuses attention, and sharpens concentration," says Dr. Nevins. The body and self-awareness are particularly beneficial, he adds, "because they can help with the early detection of physical problems and allow for early preventive action."
Because there are so many different types of yoga practices, it is possible for someone to start. "Whether you are a couch master or a professional athlete, the size and fitness levels do not matter because there are modifications to each yoga pose and classes for beginners in each style," says Dr. Nevins. "The idea is to explore its limits, not to strive for some perfection of pretzel.It is a great way to get in tune with your body and your inner being."
Video credits to Payal Ayurvedic Desi Health YouTube channel