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Yoga provides tangible health benefits - research

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Studies released ahead of World Yoga Day this month (22 February) have revealed what yoga enthusiasts have always believed - it provides multiple tangible health benefits.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University have found evidence that yoga can be effective for the treatment of low back pain [1] - often negating the need for medication. Another study has discovered a link between yoga and improved mood in patients with major depressive disorder [2].

According to Active+, one of New Zealand’s largest multi-disciplinary rehab suppliers, scientific evidence means that yoga has become an increasingly accepted part of illness and injury recovery amongst health professionals.

However, there is still work to be done when it comes to educating Kiwis about yoga and how it can help with rehabilitation, injury prevention and general health care.

"People see photos of celebrities and influencers on Instagram and think that yoga is all about pretty poses, and being flexible. However, that is a limited view," explains Active+ yoga instructor, Ariel Meadows "The main benefits that we see are actually related to improved mobility. Yoga moves your entire body and utilises all of your joints, from your hands to your feet. Rather than striving to achieve certain shapes, we focus on maintaining the mobility that we have now and sustaining it as we get older."

"I have had a few people come in with low back pain recently," she adds. "Many assume that sitting down is the culprit - but it can result from any postural habit, including standing. The human body is designed to move so if we’re holding the same positions for a long time, it will lead to stiffness and pain. Yoga breaks you out of those postural patterns and means you are more aware of your body and when you might need to move or stretch."

According to Ariel, another key benefit is the reduction of stress and tension, which can manifest itself in back pain, shoulder pain and headaches.

"Many of us hold our breath without realising, especially when we’re anxious or under pressure - sitting in rush hour traffic, for example! Yoga teaches physical awareness, which stays with you throughout the day, long after your yoga class is over. This means you will notice when you’re holding your breath or when there is tension in your shoulders, and can use some of the exercises you’ve been taught to release it."

When it comes to trying yoga for the first time, Ariel recommends keeping a positive outlook and leaving expectations at the door - as well as resisting the urge to make comparisons to other people in the room.

"Also, don’t give up if the first class you try isn’t for you. There is so much variety within yoga. It could be that the teacher or the group isn’t quite the right fit. Some people respond better to a faster class pace while others prefer a gentler, more internal experience. It’s worth taking the time to find a group that works for you, and is going to provide what you need to get out of it."

Active+ can help with almost anything in terms of prevention, rehabilitation and wellness. The 100% Kiwi owned rehabilitation and physiotherapy network was founded by Gill Webb in 1990. Since then, it is estimated that Active+ has helped more than 300,000 New Zealanders with injury prevention, rehabilitation and wellness.

Ariel Meadows teaches yoga at Active+ Albany North Shore. Originally from Florida, she was introduced to yoga at an early age by her mother, who was a dedicated self-taught practitioner. She taught her first yoga class in 2000. She then studied at New Zealand's Centre for Contemporary Yoga Studies in 2016 to complete her 200-hour yoga teacher certification.

For more details, visit activeplus.co.nz or follow Active+ on Facebook.

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