By: Kayla Malmgren, SPTA
Yoga originated thousands of years ago and has become increasingly common in recent years. The practice of yoga, which in Sanskrit means “to unite,” balances the mind, body, and soul as it is said to unite the body with the universe. The diversity within the practice allows anyone – regardless of age and lifestyle – to become an active participant and lead a more active, healthy lifestyle.
Most yoga practices combine breathing techniques (pranayama), physical postures (asanas), and meditation. With a variety of yoga styles, there are different routines for each skill level and always room for improvement, whether you are a beginner or have been practicing for years. This multidimensional practice has something for everyone, and a growing body of scientific research supports its benefits, including:
- Improved balance and flexibility
- Increased muscle tone and strength
- Improved athletic performance with a decreased risk for injury
- Reduced back pain and improved function
Yoga has been shown to have a down-regulating effect on the sympathetic nervous system, which helps to lower stress/depression and anxiety symptoms. Practicing yoga daily has been shown to lower blood sugar in patients with diabetes by physiologically affecting the uptake of insulin. Cardiopulmonary benefits include improved lung capacity, increased oxygen delivery, as well as decreased respiration rate and resting heart rate. All of these factors lead to improved endurance and cardiovascular fitness, which can reduce the risk of heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. Yoga also has significant effects on subjective measures of pain, fatigue, and sleep in both health and ill populations. A comprehensive review of the effects of yoga compared to other forms of exercise concluded that yoga might be as effective as, or better than, other types of exercise with respect to improving a variety of health-related outcomes.
With so many benefits, each and every person has something to gain from giving this practice a try. A simple way to get started is to learn the Sun Salutation. This is a common yoga technique that anyone can practice and is a great way to get energized and start your day. Click here for a video to learn the basic Sun Salutation. You can also incorporate yoga into your daily routine at the office. Click this link to learn 15 simple and quick yoga moves that will take less than two minutes but can improve your posture and be used to help you de-stress during your workday.
Additionally, Sports PT Physical Therapists Amy Barbasch and Allison Scannapieco are now trained to instruct and assist patients with yoga poses. They are excited to announce that they will be offering safe and effective yoga classes in fall 2014 at Sports PT! Stay tuned for more information!
Sports PT is proud to invest in teaching and mentoring students of physical therapy throughout New York State. To learn more about the student experience, visit here.
Thomas, S., & Ross, A. The Health Benefits of Yoga and Exercise: A Review of Comparison Studies. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16, 3-12
Different Types of Yoga. (n.d.). MindBodyGreen. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-68/Different-Types-of-Yoga.html
Yoga Journal: Office Yoga – Stress relief you can do at your desk.. (n.d.). Yoga Journal: Office Yoga. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://www.yogajournal.com/officeyoga/day1/
Sun Salutation. (n.d.). Fitness Magazine. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/videos/m/32072101/sun-salutation.htm
Health Benefits of Yoga Explain. (n.d.). Yoga Health Foundation. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://yogahealthfoundation.org/health_benefits_of_yoga_explained
Yoga for Health: Get the Facts. (2013, July 1). National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://nccam.nih.gov/sites/nccam.nih.gov/files/Get_The_Facts_Yoga_for_Health_06-04-2013%20(2).pdf