Have you wondered if yoga might help you?
Yoga has become the "in thing" over the last few years, and you only have to do a quick search online to see everything from traditional styles of yoga, to beer yoga, chicken nugget yoga and goat yoga! (Not even kidding!)
But is yoga a good option if you have pain?
Here's a lot of reasons I like yoga as a pain-friendly exercise..
Low Impact Movements
Many yoga sequences are slow, gentle, low impact movements. There's no need for jumping, running, hopping, or other high energy movements that can put a lot of force through your joints. Moving in these slow, controlled ways can help keep your muscles and joints happy and healthy.
Improve Your Balance
Practicing yoga can challenge your balance, it can be a little tricky at first if you're not used to shifting your body weight or if your proprioception is a little out. But practice makes perfect, and by improving your balance you can reduce risks of things like trips, falls or rolling your ankles.
It Can Be A Full Body Work Out
Unless the class specifically is targeting a certain area, most of the time you'll get a pretty well balanced work out for your whole body. You'll also be doing stretching and strengthening moves without needing to push yourself too hard. Of course, there are many types of yoga classes, and some are designed to be much more physically challenging, so if you have pain choose a gentle class like a Slow Flow or Yin style, and talk to your yoga teacher about any limitation you have so they can keep an eye on you if they need to.
Exercise naturally produces amazing brain chemicals that help reduce our stress hormones. Combine that with mindful breathing, purposeful movement, and the calming environment and you have a very powerful stress buster!
So Many Choices!
There are just so many choices in where, when and how to practice. Yoga studios are abundant in Melbourne. But with the internet, YouTube and smart phones, you can also choose to practice at home, at the beach, in the park, literally anywhere with enough space to roll out a mat. Online classes also means that you can pick the length of class you can manage on the day, even if thats just 5 minutes per day.
Join A Community
By joining a class at a studio, you can meet people who are there for similar reasons. A lot of studios also offer memberships to make it affordable to go regularly, and run workshops or events.
Build Great Habits
By booking in for the same yoga class each week, you create a routine. Even one class a week makes a difference! Its your You Time, your time to move your body, push thoughts out of your head, breathe a little deeper, and know that you've nourished your body and brain.
You Can't Win At Yoga
There's no prizes or championships for yoga. No medals for being the most flexible. Winning isn't your purpose in yoga, you can just be exactly how you are on the day and move your body in a way that feels good. Some days you'll feel more or less mobile, but its all about you, not the person next to you.
Modify The Moves To Suit You
A lot of poses have different stages, and its unrealistic to expect to jump straight into the most advanced version of a pose. Speak to your teacher and they can modify poses to make it gentler and more comfortable for you. Taking a modified position that isn't painful is always better than forcing yourself into an advanced position that hurts.
Want to try yoga, but you're not sure where to start? If you're local to our Knoxfield clinic, then my favourite yoga studio near us is Hark Yoga on Burwood Hwy, Ferntree Gully. You can try an intro pass for $30 for 14 days of unlimited classes - personally I can highly recommend their Body & Mind classes, its a great combination of movement and meditation.
Hark Yoga also have a 21 Day Challenge starting on 2nd September, and we're contributing some Myotherapy gift certificates to the goodie bags!
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully.