Improve your flexibility with yoga!

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September is National Yoga Month! Many of you practice regularly, which is beneficial to your health and the stability of your spine. If you don’t practice, below are some tips encouraging you to explore this ancient practice of breath, movement and meditation.

Yoga, meaning “union”, is traced back to over 5000 years in India. It was brought to the west in the late 1800’s and today there are many schools and practices which consist of mental, physical and spiritual disciplines ultimately bringing the practitioner to a state of awareness and stilling the mind.

Most practitioners today enjoy the more physical benefits of a regular practice which include the following: increasing flexibility, strengthening the spine, improving posture, improving joint health, improving mindfulness and reducing stress.

I encourage patients daily to do three core exercises, which I previously blogged about, but are essentially yoga postures. These help stabilize the lumbar spine and minimize lower back pain and dysfunction and improve your stamina, strength and overall well-being of the lumbar spine. The three poses are plank, bridge and bird dog.

A lot of people are intimidated beginning yoga as they believe they have to be flexible to do yoga. Wrong! One of the best yoga instructors I ever had always said “You don’t have to be flexible to practice yoga, yoga makes you flexible.” That being said, anything you do to improve your flexibility is better than doing nothing at all. Everyone’s physiology is different, so do not compare yourself to others.

Your muscles have memory, so each time you practice, your body will remember where you stopped and will keep improving with each successive practice.

As much as I encourage all my patients to exercise, I’ve found over the years, stretching is even more important and yoga is a perfect way to do that. As we age, recovery from activity takes longer and the more you stretch, practice yoga and ingest recovery supplements, the faster your body will recover from strenuous activities and exercise.

This also circles back to the most important thing, which is spinal health. Yoga poses encourage flushing of your organs which result in excretion of waste and toxins through your skin, digestive and urinary systems; improving cerebral spinal fluid movement from your sacrum to your brain and back; improving your posture and balance both physically and neurologically; and creating “Ease” in your mind, vertebral joints, nervous system and spinal tissues.

There are numerous studios and private yoga instructors in our area. I encourage you to discover which yoga practice fits you best and give it a try. Many studios will give you free passes to try a couple of classes and Medicare has the Silver Sneakers program through many gyms which offer chair yoga. Always speak to the instructor first and communicate to them any health challenges or significant medical history and they should offer you alternative poses and modifications for your practice. These modifications will not hinder the benefits from the postures. If the instructor does not offer support, then seek greener pastures elsewhere. You need to feel comfortable and safe when trying something new. If you have any concerns, I’m always available to answer your questions. Namaste


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