Need balance in your life? Give yoga a try!

As a medicine, yoga has something for everyone: from the overly stressed to the incontinent, or a person suffering from fibromyalgia or a torn ligament. But choose your instructor carefully.

Janet Cranston
Fit for Life

There is much research to support the claim that Exercise is Medicine, and that concept comes as no surprise to those who practice yoga.

Yoga is unique in that it combines the mental, physical and emotional elements to help people find the balance that they are looking for. Often the people who are drawn to yoga are interested in slowing down or their bodies have let them know that they need to slow down.

For those who think that you need to be as flexible as a Cirque du Soleil performer to enjoy yoga, it’s time to take another look.

Yoga is for everyone at every level. Those who have had fibromyalgia, sciatica, carpal tunnel or bulging disks are now feeling wellness and learning self-care. Yoga with a focus on pelvic floor health is great for both men and women who suffer from incontinence. On an emotional level, we’ve seen huge increases in well-being for those who suffer from medically-diagnosed anxiety or depression. For anyone who is dealing with a chronic disease that is creating stress in their lives or with the emotional weight of helping a loved one with health issues, yoga can be a powerful healer. For athletes who have had injuries and had to slow the body down, yoga has been amazing in restoring joint, ligament and tendon health and increasing range of motion. Yoga is partly about getting in touch with your body and learning how to self-regulate emotions – abilities that we lose sight of in our busy worlds.

It is never too late to start yoga. If you have a hard time getting on and off the floor, you can still participate and benefit from yoga. Yoga can be done from a chair. You will just need to look for a yoga studio or fitness facility that offers chair yoga.

So, if you’ve never practiced yoga, where do you start?

Virtually all types of yoga improve strength, flexibility and balance. The more intense styles can also help you shape up and trim down. Look for a beginner yoga class to start and then when you begin to feel more comfortable with the practice of yoga you can explore the many different options.

Also make sure you go to a reputable yoga studio or fitness facility that offers yoga and ensure the yoga instructors are certified. A good yoga instructor will be able to guide you to the best type of yoga to meet your goals and health concerns.

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others” ~ Peace Pilgrim.

Janet Cranston is director of health and fitness, Reh-Fit Centre.

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