What is yoga? How does it work?
Yoga is a mind and body practice with historical origins in ancient Indian philosophy. Various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation.
In 5,000 years of yoga history, the term “yoga” has gone through a renaissance in current culture, exchanging the loincloth for a leotard and leggings.
Yoga has become popular as a form of physical exercise based upon asanas (physical poses) to promote improved control of mind and body and to enhance well-being.
Health benefits of yoga
Scientific trials of varying quality have been published on the health benefits and medical uses of yoga. Studies suggest that yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity and enhance strength, flexibility and balance. Yoga practice has also shown benefit in specific medical conditions, and we will look at this evidence and current scientific research below.
Scientists and medical doctors pursuing yoga-related research focus on its potential benefits as a technique for relieving stress and coping with chronic conditions or disabilities, as well as investigating its potential to help prevent, heal, or alleviate specific conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, carpal tunnel syndrome, asthma, diabetes, and symptoms of menopause.
Risks and side effects of yoga
Yoga is low-impact and safe for healthy people when practiced appropriately under the guidance of a well-trained instructor.
Injury due to yoga is an infrequent barrier to continued practice, and severe injury due to yoga is rare.
Anyone who is pregnant or who has an ongoing medical condition, such as high blood pressure, glaucoma or sciatica, should talk to their health care practitioner prior to practicing yoga as they may need to modify or avoid some yoga poses.
Beginners should avoid extreme practices such as headstand, lotus position and forceful breathing.
Individuals with medical preconditions should work with their physician and yoga teacher to appropriately adapt postures; patients with glaucoma or a history or high risk of retinal detachment should avoid inversions, and patients with compromised bone should avoid forceful yoga practices.
Do not use yoga to replace conventional medical care or to postpone seeing a health care provider about pain or any other medical condition. If you have a medical condition, talk to your health care provider before starting yoga.