As kids, we were indestructible. We fell over all the time, but we bounced right back up every time. Watching your kids today, you may long for your more limber years. People around the world, of all ages, are using yoga to regain their youthful mobility. And what’s at the center of mobility? Your spine!
Ali Baaj, MD, is a neurosurgeon with Banner Brain & Spine. He listed a few key reasons why yoga is so beneficial for spine health.
1. Greater range of motion
Yoga poses will encourage you to stretch beyond your regular day-to-day flexibility. Yoga can be better than isolated stretching because it often incorporates muscles across your body. For many people with lower back pain, hamstring tightness can be a problem. Full-body stretching is great for functional flexibility.
2. Breathing and relaxation
Stress can be a big cause of tightness throughout your body, especially in the neck and back. Certain yoga routines will focus on your breathing and even use meditation techniques to relax your body. Dr. Baaj added, “Breathing techniques and meditation can potentially lower the body stress and even speed the healing process. This can be especially useful after surgery and during the recovery process.”
3. Better posture
Poor posture is more than just a bad habit. It is a symptom of weakness in your core. By strengthening your core, you’ll find it much easier to sit up straight. With proper strength and flexibility, you may even be able to reverse unhealthy curvature and avoid back pain in the future.
4. Stronger core
The stretching you did in middle school gym class was great for loosening up. But yoga goes one step further because during your practice as you stretch certain muscles, you are flexing others. You may find that holding certain yoga poses is difficult at first. Just as a weightlifter starts with less weight, you should focus on doing easy poses correctly in the beginning and then incorporate harder poses as you improve. It can be hard to measure improved core strength when working out, but you’ll notice over time that you can hold harder poses for longer.
5. Improved balance
Balance is a measure of strength, flexibility and awareness. Yoga is a great way to improve your connection to your body and teach your muscles how to be stable in different positions. This will help you to be more agile and to avoid injury.
Including yoga in your exercise routine is a great way to proactively avoid spinal injuries and weakness. You will find that everything in your life is easier and more comfortable when you are strong, flexible and in tune with your body. Dr. Baaj noted that practicing yoga can help you avoid common spinal ailments like joint and muscle stiffness, nerve impingements and poor posture.
There are so many ways to get started with yoga. From in-person classes to YouTube instructors, books and much more. This is your sign to give it a try! Start easy and go from there.
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