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What is Yoga and How Can It Help Me?




Yoga is a practice that works to unite the mind and body through the use of physical postures, breath, and awareness. It is an activity and lifestyle, not a religious or cultural practice. As with any physical activity, persons at risk for injury should check with their clinician before engaging in yoga. Listen to your own body. Begin slowly and gently. Realize that you will not be able to do everything right away and proceed at your own pace. There is no competition in yoga.


Selecting a Teacher or Facility


Within yoga there are many schools and traditions. See below for descriptions. People with physical limitations should place a strong emphasis on developing precise alignment of their body (good alignment habits right from the start) in the yoga postures to prevent injury and develop self-awareness. We suggest that you visit a qualified teacher (and perhaps a physical therapist) at the beginning of your yoga practice—even before using yoga videos—so that you learn about correct alignment.


Different Kinds of Yoga


HATHA: Describes the traditional practice of postures from which many other forms evolved.


IYENGAR: A good choice for beginners because it stresses technique, includes lots of verbal instructions, and uses extensive props, such as belts, blocks, sandbags, chairs, etc., to allow less flexible students access to the poses and to deepen poses for more flexible students.


ASHTANGA: These classes run students through a rigorous series of postures. Emphasis is on strength and stamina.


POWER: The American version of Ashtanga, with little or no emphasis on the spiritual side of yogic teachings. It is usually an intense workout, usually with minimal one-on-one instruction.


KUNDALINI: Emphasis is on breathing and energy flow. Classes may include chanting, music, and meditation, and can be as rigorous and demanding as power yoga.


It is wise to inquire about the training of the teachers at a selected facility to see if they are able to modify and individualize each pose for every student according to their flexibility level and any physical limitations. Health clubs tend to use less skilled teachers as compared to yoga studios.


How Can Yoga Help Me?


1.  Improves flexibility. A particularly great benefit has been increased flexibility of the spine in the lower back and neck regions for the many Americans who suffer pain in those regions. For some, it may help relieve carpal tunnel and arthritic pain.

2.  Strength, stamina, and muscle-tone improve quickly as the mind and body work together in harmony. Can be invigorating. Digestion can be improved and constipation reduced.

3.  Increases body balance, alignment, precision, coordination, and control.

4.  Yogic breathing practices can improve lung function, which may be especially helpful to those with asthma.

5.  If practiced in a mindful way, yoga can be calming and relaxing after a hectic day. The stress reduction may help to control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, reduce arterial damage, and reduce blood pressure.

6.  Increases awareness, focus and concentration, which is beneficial to athletes and anyone who wishes to improve performance and mental sharpness.

7.  Increases self-esteem for both men and women. This improvement can be useful in supporting healthy changes in people who struggle with weight, age, or appearance issues.


 Yoga Resources


Yoga Journal and New To Yoga also


Yoga Journal's Best Sequences for Beginners (and also to help out special health conditions)--Really good! :


Yoga For Seniors: For information about senior yoga, class locations and instructor certification visit: - The Yoga Resource Center
A practical and inspirational site for anyone who wants to promote harmony and well-being in their life with yoga. Find the A2Z of Yoga over here.


For advanced, Power Yoga Jon Baptiste


Easy Does It Yoga, Safe and gentle yoga for those challenged by age, chronic health problems, injury, or inactivity. Alice Christensen, (1999), American Yoga Association

Exercise Videos: Collage Video has hundreds of videos and DVD options from physical limitations to aerobics, strength, and flexibility. Free catalog. 1-800-433-6769;

Muscle and Stretching sites

Muscle Atlas
An atlas of the muscles from the University of Washington

Exercise and Muscle Directory
This is a great tool for helping to learn muscles and their actions

New Muscle Stretches
Easy to do stretches for the major muscle groups


Stretching, by Bob Anderson, (2000), Shelter Publications, Inc. Tips for everyday fitness and most sports. Clear illustrations are easy to follow.

             Copyright © 2001-2018 Bob Wilson BS, DTR  All Right Reserved. Articles are for personal use only. Please request permission for other uses. Thanks!