Dr. Karl Jawhari: 5 Ways Yoga Helps Maintain a Healthy Spine
There are three major components to yoga. These are physical exercises, breathing, and mediation. When Dr. Karl Jawhari talks about how yoga can help keep your spine healthy, he focuses primarily on the physical aspect of yoga, in combination with proper breathing. Below are the five major benefits of Yoga that can contribute to a healthy spine.
1. Strengthening – Looking from the outside in, yoga might seem like an exercise in getting in and out of extreme and awkward poses, but in reality, almost anyone can do yoga if they begin with the basics. The physical form of yoga, called Hatha Yoga, has to do with holding certain poses called Asanas.
While not necessarily difficult to get into, the mere act of staying in a pose requires a certain amount of effort to sustain what modern physical therapists would call an isometric contraction. You may have heard of one of the most famous isometric exercises, the plank.
The isometrics in yoga are excellent for strengthening the back and core muscles that keep the spine balanced.
2. Stretching – Stretching is not just something that we do to increase flexibility, but the static stretching involved in yoga is excellent for preventing injuries by carrying over the strength benefits into your maximum range of motions. This means that you’re less likely to strain yourself by hyper-extending your spine and other back joints.
3. Posture – Poor posture is the most common cause of back pain. Having strong and balanced antagonist muscles will make it easier for you to maintain a proper posture while seated or standing. In other words, we often hear that we use muscles that we never knew that we had when we do yoga. It’s these supporting muscles that don’t normally do the heavy lifting that it’s important to strengthen.
4. Bloodflow – Strength building, stretching, and good posture all contribute to blood flow. Good blood flow will help you to avoid numbness and the pinched nerve sensation that we often see in people with back and spine problems.
5. Relaxation – Finally, yoga forces you to relax. The soft, flowy music, the generally gentle voices of yoga instructors, and yoga’s connection with meditation and nature are not just incidental. By its very nature, yoga forces you to relax your mind as you focus on maintaining the various poses.
Yoga is more than just the sum of its parts, says Dr. Karl Jawhari. Apart from the aspects mentioned above, practicing yoga is an experience and a lifestyle that some treat like a religion.