Yoga can do more than just help your flexibility
Vancouver is a yoga lover's paradise
There are a wide variety of yoga classes offered at studios, community centres and gyms. Many Vancouverites dress like they regularly practice yoga even if they don't actually do it. So many, in fact, that one of the most popular yoga wear brands in the world, Lululemon, was founded here.
How Can Yoga Help You
I'll admit I'm not a regular yoga goer. I've done it briefly in the past and enjoyed it but I don't have time in my schedule to fit in another workout. My wife, on the other hand, has been going to yoga for years.
Everyone mentions yoga when the topic of flexibility comes up but I wanted to find out if there are other benefits to yoga. Taking a look through the research literature here's what I found:
- Yoga can help you manage stress
- It can also help improve gait; balance; upper and lower body flexibility; lower body strength and even help weight loss in older adults
- When used as a supplementary measure, yoga is useful for managing pain
- When it comes to lower back pain, the research evidence is mixed with some studies showing a positive effect, while others showed no more benefit compared to other exercises or simply the potential for benefit
- There's also some evidence it may help arthritis
Is Yoga Dangerous?
Social media was lit up last year with an article that claimed yoga can be dangerous. While any activity may be potentially dangerous, I think this story overstated the risks of yoga for healthy people.
That said, you should take the same precautions with yoga as with any other form of exercise:
- Follow a gradual progression. Don't try to touch your nose to your knees in your first class.
- Look for qualified instructors and get proper instruction. A good instructor should be able to give you modifications for any moves that aren't safe for you or you can't do correctly.
- If you do have any medical or health issues, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise. In the case of yoga, if you've had any spine or neck injuries, check with your specialist if there are any movements you should avoid or modify.
Yoga can be a great addition to an exercise program. Give it a go to improve your mobility, relieve stress and potentially have less pain.