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Yoga and Health: Uniting Body, Mind and Spirit

Learn how it may help your health and ease stress.

By John Welsh, Contributing Writer

Yoga, the ancient mind-body exercise developed in India, is one of the most popular complementary health practices. It may be beneficial for several health conditions including chronic lower-back pain. It may also help improve overall fitness, improve quality of life and help manage stress.

Who may try it
Most types of yoga are low-impact and considered safe for healthy people when done under the eye of a well-trained instructor. But some forms can be strenuous. Talk with your health care provider before starting yoga if you have any medical problems, particularly if you have:

  • Issues with balance
  • High blood pressure
  • Glaucoma or sciatica
  • Pregnancy
  • Osteoporosis
  • Risk of blood clots
  • Herniated disk

Before you begin
Want to try yoga? Do some research to learn about types of yoga and instructors in your area. Professional groups also have lists of instructors who have completed training programs. Many health clubs have certified yoga instructors, too.

Practice safety
A skilled instructor will teach proper form and adjust postures to your personal condition. Tell your instructor if you’re a beginner or if you have any medical issues.

Here are some tips for a safe yoga experience:

  • Warm up before your session.
  • Wear clothes that allow you move easily.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Know your limits. Don’t try positions beyond your ability.
  • If you have pain during yoga, stop and take a break. If the pain persists, talk with your doctor.

Note: If you’re pregnant, physically inactive or have a health condition such as arthritis, diabetes or heart disease, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing your activity level. He or she can tell you what types and amounts of activities are safe for you.

Sources:

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Yoga for health. Accessed: July 31, 2017.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Five things you should know about yoga. Accessed: July 31, 2017.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans. Accessed: July 31, 2017.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Yoga injury prevention. Accessed: July 31, 2017.

Last Updated: June 14, 2017