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Benefits of yoga

Posted at 10:45 AM, Mar 15, 2017

Yoga may seem like a "trendy" new workout that just appeared in the early 21st century, but in reality yoga has been around for centuries bringing many health benefits to those who practice it.

Dr. Diana Bitner, a nationally recognized menopause specialist from Spectrum Health, explains how yoga is very beneficial to the body physically, psychologically, and emotionally.

Yoga can be done at all levels of skill, from gentle restorative yoga for someone needing to recover from surgery or injury, to intense levels with difficult poses. There are also many types of yoga, each with it's own set of benefits:

  • Restorative: A series of relaxing poses with slow transition between for gentle stretching.
  • Vinyasa: A series of poses with quicker flow between, can be different levels depending on the strength required to do them.
  • Bikram: A heated, set series of 26 poses.
  • Ashtanga: Done in a hot room, providing a more difficult and challenging workout.
  • Hot Yoga: Same thing as Ashtanga, but there isn't a required set of poses.

In a yoga pose, it's necessary to be still and allow the muscles to slowly stretch; poses can't be forced. Yoga is also a good way to exercise patience and focus in order to hold a pose for a long period of time.

Dr. Bitner says that just by practicing yoga once or twice a week, the effect flows out into other parts of life.

Starting with the more obvious physical benefits of yoga, it improves flexibility and reduces pain in the joints and back. Yoga also increases muscle mass and muscle tone, which in turn helps with weight loss and reduces an appetite for unhealthy foods.

Not only is yoga good for the body, but also for the mind. By adding a sense of balance and calm to exercising, the practice of yoga often helps people with insomnia, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Outside of mental illness, yoga increases the ability to focus and be more mindful, reduce distraction and help with many other stressful areas in day-to-day life. Yoga practices have also been shown to help with sex drive and the ability to get in the moment.

With all these benefits for a healthier mind and body, yoga is a health practice that people of all ages can enjoy.

Dr. Bitner's office is located at 3800 Lake Michigan Drive Northwest, Suite A. To schedule an appointment with her, call (616) 267-8225.

All information was provided by Dr. Diana Bitner and her blog. Read more.