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Yoga is a mind and body practice that involves movement, breathing exercises, and a focus on thoughts and feelings as they happen (mindfulness). It began in ancient India as a spiritual practice, based on the idea that the mind and body are one. But today, more people practice yoga for overall health, including flexibility, stress relief, and physical fitness.
Common styles of yoga include Ashtanga, Bikram, and Iyengar, which are all part of the school of Hatha yoga. While their styles vary, they all include stretching postures that are done with focused, deep breathing.
Yoga can be practiced alone or with others. There are yoga classes for all skill levels, from beginners to advanced students. Some classes focus on movement and correct ways to do each posture. Other classes are more about stress relief and mindfulness. Yoga classes often take place in a yoga studio, but they can be taught anywhere, including outside. For example, Bikram yoga (a type of hot yoga) is practiced in a heated room.
Why It Is Used
People today often practice yoga for their overall health, but some people use yoga to help with a physical problem, such as back pain. In some cases, people with a health issue practice yoga on the advice of their doctors, along with their regular medical treatment.
Yoga may help people with chronic low back pain, but it's not clear if yoga is more helpful than any other activity or treatment for chronic low back pain.footnote 1 It also seems to help with other types of chronic pain, improve quality of life in cancer patients, and reduce fatigue related to cancer and cancer treatment.
Yoga is a mind and body practice that involves movement, breathing exercises, and a focus on thoughts and feelings as they happen (mindfulness). These stretching movements, called poses, can help relieve stress and help you relax. Some examples include the extended puppy pose, the cat cow pose, and the reclining bound angle pose.
Experts consider yoga to be safe.
Like any physical activity, yoga can cause muscle strains or sprains. Gentle stretching before a yoga session can help prevent injuries.
Always tell your doctor if you are using an alternative therapy or if you are thinking about combining an alternative therapy with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on an alternative therapy.
Current as of: June 5, 2023
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