Yoga is the hot new fitness trend sweeping the country, or at least it seems that way with all the girls (and some guys) wearing yoga pants. In all seriousness, yoga has become hugely popular because people are experiencing the many health benefits it offers first hand. As a former football player and shot putter, I have always been about lifting heavy and throwing far. I use to think that yoga was for weird hippies that just wanted to stretch and call it a workout. That all changed when I tried hot yoga for the first time. Needless to say, it kicked my butt, and I had a new found respect and appreciation for yoga. As I've continued to learn and practice yoga, I have come to realize that regular yoga goes hand in hand with regular chiropractic for a healthy spine and body. The following are just a few of the many health benefits of adding yoga to your weekly workout routine.
- Increased Flexibility and Mobility
Improved flexibility and mobility is probably the most recognized health benefit to doing yoga, but do you know why it is important? Poor muscle flexibility and joint mobility is the most common cause of musculoskeletal injuries in the body. When you have really tight muscles your range of motion is limited and you are more prone to injuries. Tight muscles in the spine can also pull your vertebra out of alignment causing subluxations that can lead to nerve irritation. Likewise, when you don't have good mobility in your joints, those areas of your body are susceptible to early onset of joint degeneration. Some patients that I meet believe that they were born with tight muscles, and there is some truth to that. Everyone has a different make up of their connective tissue. However, everyone also has the ability to improve on what they were given. A little practice goes along way and, before you know it, you will be touching your toes and mastering your chaturanga.
- Builds Muscle Strength
Along with improving flexibility, yoga is great for building muscle strength. Now, your not going to become Miss Universe or the Hulk by practicing yoga, but you will develop stronger, more toned muscles through holding different yoga poses. As you practice yoga more, you will notice that your balance will begin to improve. This happens by training your nervous system to respond faster and engage more muscles. This leads to increased muscle strength which can help prevent injuries. Yoga is great for seniors because improved balance and muscle strength can help prevent falls.
- Improves Posture
As a chiropractor, I see patients all day, everyday who suffer from poor posture. Most people may think that poor posture is not a big deal, but it can actually have very significant implications on your overall health. You don't have to be in a serious car accident do damage your spine and body. You can damage your body everyday through chronic repetitive stress (ie. poor posture.) Just like your car needs to be in proper alignment to function optimally, so does your body. Yoga can help you achieve good posture in your spine by improving your flexibility, muscle strength and balance.
- Decreases Back Pain and Improves Spinal Health
Your spine is loaded with special types of nerve endings called, "proprioceptors". These nerve endings are stimulated by movement and, when they are stimulated, they actually have the ability to override pain in your back. In other words, your spine craves movement. When you practice yoga, you will be moving your whole spine through a full range of motion and stimulating massive amounts of proprioceptors that will help to decrease back pain. Getting more movement in the spine will also help to get nutrients to the disks that act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae. This will help to prevent herniated disks and the early onset of disk degeneration.
- Improves Core Strength
When most people hear the words, "core strength," they think of their abdominal muscles. Yes, the abs are a part of your core, but so is your diaphragm, back muscles and pelvic floor muscles. These groups of muscles work together to help support and stabilize your spine and the body as a whole. As we get older and are less active, these muscles begin to get weaker and respond slower. This predisposes the spine to injuries. I see this everyday in my practice when I have a patient who blows out their low back when they are doing something as simple as bending over to tie their shoes. Yoga is great at strengthening your core muscles because a lot of the poses that you do in yoga engage these muscles. Not to mention that yoga focuses on proper breathing techniques that not only helps to engage the core muscles, but also aids in lowering blood pressure and reducing stress.
- Eliminates Stress
The adrenal glands are our bodies stress response glands. They sit just above the kidneys and produce over 50 different hormones. One of the major hormones that the adrenal glands secrete is cortisol, which helps prepare the body for stressful situations. Released for a short period of time, cortisol is a good thing. However, when you're constantly stressed day-in and day-out, cortisol can have some very negative health effects. Yoga has been shown to lower cortisol and reduce stress in your body.
- Improves Sleep
As if all of these other benefits are not enough to convince you to go out and buy a yoga mat, you will also sleep better once you start practicing yoga on a regular basis. Many people suffer from restlessness and are unable to get a good nights rest because they have stress and tension in the body. Regular yoga practice helps to lower your blood pressure, reduce tension in the muscles and joints, eliminate stress in the body, and clear your mind. All of these benefits are a recipe for the best night of sleep you've ever had.
If you're interested in adding yoga to your fitness routine, there are lots of studios and gyms in town that offer this healthy practice. You can also stop by our office where we offer Wind Down Wednesdays Night Yoga. On the first and third Wednesdays of each month, we offer yoga classes for just $10. Classes begin at 5:45 p.m. and space is limited to 10 participants. Visit our Facebook page for more information at www.facebook.com/BrianBurnettChiropractic .