5 Conditions That May Benefit From Yoga
If you happen to suffer from one of these 5 common conditions, you might consider yoga to help ease some of your suffering. Yoga is not a cure, but it can provide some relief. Find a gentle class and a teacher that you enjoy and stick with it for a few weeks to see how it might help you.
1. Depression. I would recommend yoga as part of a lifestyle to help keep depression at bay. I know that when you are in the depth of a depressive period, you are probably not going to run out the door to your evening yoga class. So when you are between lows, try to add a yoga class to your routine. The movements, combined with guided meditation and controlled breathing exercises, are proven to lift the mood and relieve aches and pains that can worsen symptoms.
2. Anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety, a regular yoga class can provide you with temporary relief by helping to regulate your body’s stress response. Controlled breathing and meditation can help to slow down the racing thoughts, increased heart rate and rapid breathing that often accompany anxiety. Yoga poses also help to ease tension that builds up in the body and perhaps prevents you from relaxing fully. Once you become comfortable using the breathing exercises that are practice in a yoga class, you can use those techniques when you feel yourself becoming anxious to help curb the stress response.
3. Lower Back Pain. For generalized low back pain, (that is, pain not resulting from a more serious back injury or spinal disc problems) yoga can provide some much needed relief. Whether the pain stems from a sedentary lifestyle or repetitive movements, a gentle yoga class will help by a) stretching the muscles around your hips that might be pulling on the lower back b) gently twisting the spine to increase range of motion and decrease stiffness, c) stretching the front of the body to release tightness that again, may be pulling on the lower back and d) using controlled breathing and meditation to alleviate stress that could be worsening the pain.
4. Poor Posture. If you work at a desk or a computer for a large chunk of the day, chances are you suffer from poor posture. The hunching forward that often accompanies sedentary work has an uncomfortable consequence on the body. Maybe you feel it as shoulder pain, neck pain, low back pain or are simply noticing your posture deteriorate in the mirror. If you want to do something to counteract this downward spiral, yoga is a good option. Most classes will spend a lot of time on deep breathing, which on its own can make a big difference to posture. You cannot take a deep breath when the front of your body is shortened, so the simple act of breathing deeply helps to open the front body and bring you closer to your natural alignment. In addition to deep breathing, yoga poses that help to stretch the muscles on the front of the body (like your chest, shoulders, hips and front thighs) will help to bring length back to those underused muscles and bring your body back into alignment.
5. Tension Headaches. This is a specific condition that can result from the aforementioned poor posture. After a stressful day or a day sitting at a desk without breaks, tension headaches are all too common. A yoga class can help you to stretch out the muscles in your neck, chest and shoulders that might be contributing to your headaches, as well as give you time to decompress and let go of stress that has accumulated in your mind and body throughout the day or week.