‘Yoga’ is the Sanskrit word for ‘union’, referring to the connection of mind, body and spirit. For most of its 5,000-year history, yoga was primarily a breathing and meditation practice. The more physical forms of yoga with increased focus on poses and fitness came about starting in the late 19th century from the influence of acrobats and athletes.

 

The physical, mental and emotional benefits of modern day yoga are deeply interconnected:

  • The movements and poses stretch muscles, ligaments, tendons and the layers of fascia tissue between muscles all throughout the body, which may release physical tension and increase flexibility.
  • The twisting and stretching helps flush toxins out of the fluid of the joints, the spinal column, the lymphatic system, the circulatory system and the digestive system.
  • Increased joint lubrication and dissipation of lactic acid in the muscles may aid in the relief of pain and stiffness.
  • The balance and core strength developed through the poses and movements may improve posture.
  • Full, steady breathing may improve lung capacity and oxygen absorption, which, in combination with improved circulation, may increase healing and energy.
  • The mental concentration required to accomplish the physical poses while also focusing on the breath keeps one’s mind in the body and in the present moment, a process known as mindfulness.
  • Mindfulness can ease the tendency to constantly think about past and future anxieties and may initiate the body’s relaxation response, which reduces the body’s production of stress hormones and increases the body’s production of calming hormones.

 

All bodies are different and some may not feel these benefits. However, enough people have felt improvement to encourage Western medical practitioners to embrace safely practiced yoga. Some doctors recommend yoga for certain types of physical therapy and as a compliment to traditional treatments for pain, depression, anxiety, hypertension, insomnia and other conditions. Yoga is not a replacement for medical treatment. It is always best to check with your doctor before starting any new physical activity, especially if you have injuries or challenging physical conditions.

 

Teresa, Yoga Instructor

About Teresa

Teresa Obert has been teaching highly regarded group, individual and corporate yoga classes in Bellevue, Washington and other areas of Seattle for over 19 years. She is trained in Ashtanga, Anusara and Iyengar yoga and teaches a combination of these styles for a range of skill levels with gentle and joyful encouragement. She has a strong focus on safe alignment and is happy to offer alternate poses or private instruction to work with certain physical conditions or injuries, guided by her detailed knowledge of anatomy.