What is yoga?

Yoga is a series of stretching and breathing exercises. Yoga postures involve bending, twisting, and holding body positions in certain ways.

How is it done?

You can learn yoga from an instructional video, but it may be best to start with a class and an instructor. Many places offer yoga classes, such as yoga centers, health clubs, YMCAs, recreation centers, and community colleges.

Check with your healthcare provider before you start a yoga program. Be sure to tell your instructor about any health problems you have before you begin exercising.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing so you can move easily. It is safest to exercise on a yoga mat to help prevent slipping. If you don’t have a mat, you can exercise on the floor. You may want to practice yoga barefoot.

A typical yoga session includes breathing exercises, body postures, and meditation. As you move into the postures, you should move gently, without jerking or bouncing. Breathing the correct way is very important. You will breathe out for some positions and then breathe in as you move to other positions. You should be comfortable throughout the session and should leave with both body and mind relaxed.

Regular practice (20 to 30 minutes each day) is recommended. It may be best to practice on an empty stomach.

What are the benefits of yoga?

Yoga offers many health benefits. It may improve balance, posture, flexibility, range of motion, concentration, sleep, and digestion. It can also:

  • Increase muscle strength and improve fitness
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help you relax and reduce stress and depression

After learning how to do the basic postures, you can do yoga at home. Yoga requires very little equipment.

Is yoga safe?

Look for a yoga instructor who has experience with different health conditions. Yoga routines can be changed to fit your age, ability, and health. If you have sciatica, glaucoma, high blood pressure, or if you are pregnant, you may need to avoid or change some postures. Many yoga centers let you use pillows or pads to reduce the stress on your joints and make some positions more comfortable.

Hot yoga, such as Bikram yoga, is done in rooms where the temperature is as high as 105°F (40.5°C). If you have heart disease, lung disease, or have ever had heatstroke, you may want to avoid this form of yoga. Women who are pregnant should check with their healthcare provider before starting hot yoga.

Before starting any exercise or yoga program, talk with your healthcare provider to make sure it is right for you.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-08-19
Last reviewed: 2014-08-19
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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