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Yoga Increases Mental Focus, Joint Flexibility

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September is National Yoga Month. More than 10 percent of American adults have tried yoga at some point in their lives.

Many people use yoga to relieve stress, improve fitness and enhance concentration. Yoga is also one of the best activities for maintaining flexibility, improving joint health and reducing chronic pain.

What Is So Special About Yoga?

“Yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj,” meaning “to unite, join or connect the soul and body.” This practice combines mediation, breath work, movement and body purification practices, and guidelines for living a moral, ethical life.

Yoga used to be considered an Eastern mystical practice; however, it is now a mainstream activity almost synonymous with a healthy lifestyle. Other benefits of yoga include the following:

  • Increased energy
  • Better moods
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better sleep
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, obesity and high cholesterol
  • Improved posture

Research also purports that yoga can reduce the severity of back and neck pain and arthritis. In one study, untrained volunteers improved their muscular strength at the knee and elbow by 10-30 percent after just eight weeks of practicing yoga. The participants also improved their hip, ankle and shoulder strength by 13-18 percent.

Types of Yoga

What type of yoga is most beneficial for your health? There are many types of yoga, but almost any variation can be adapted to your ability level:

Hatha yoga combines standing and seated poses and focuses on flexibility and strength. This type of yoga is excellent for beginners because it teaches you to do each pose correctly and hold it for several breaths.

Vinyasa yoga teaches you to “flow” between poses instead of standing still. Doing vinyasa yoga increases your breathing and heart rate, which is excellent for your cardiovascular system.

Ashtanga yoga includes a specific sequence of poses that you complete, which puts greater emphasis on meditation. This type of yoga helps reduce depression and anxiety and enhances self-esteem.

Iyengar yoga involves holding poses for a more extended time using yoga blocks and straps. It focuses on aligning the body. This type of yoga suits people with limited mobility because yoga props can bring the body into alignment.

Hot yoga involves 26 poses in 104-degree heat. One study showed that hot yoga participants showed remarkable improvements in the flexibility of their shoulders, back and hamstrings.

Find an Orthopedist Near You

Yoga can help improve your flexibility and reduce joint pain, but it cannot solve every joint issue. If you are experiencing joint pain or reduced mobility, you need the expertise of a board-certified orthopedist. An orthopedist can diagnose any bone problem and suggest treatment options. If you require surgery, your doctor will go through all the procedure details so you fully understand the risks and benefits. Call one of our orthopedic centers today to make an appointment.

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