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Photography by Kevin Daniels

Yoga’s Numerous Benefits

Yoga is often touted as one of the best activities for people with bleeding disorders because it is low impact, builds flexibility and strengthens joints and muscles, resulting in fewer bleeds. However, there are numerous other benefits that we see upon practicing this sport consistently including building confidence, reducing stress and improving emotional health. It can also help with one’s ability to cope with pain based on the breathing techniques and mental strength gained from the poses.

Types of Yoga

There is a variety of yoga techniques, all for different results. There are restful postures, Yin, which are not for strength building but for stretching out and opening up the body. Vinyasa and Power Vinyasa yoga consists of more energetic postures linked with breathing. For people recovering from injury or have a disability might practice Iyengar, assisted yoga postures, which uses props for support, along with the guidance of knowledgeable teachers. Bikram is a type of yoga done in a hot room. The heat helps to loosen body and go deeper. All these varieties of yoga can help with pain management, confidence and stress relief. Yoga postures can easily be modified to accommodate strength, experience and health conditions. Starting slowly and gradually expanding your practice is important as to not re-injure or derail your progress.

Chronic Pain Relief

The practice of yoga is a unique fitness activity in that it improves mental fitness, as well as physical. Using breathing techniques and a focus on the resiliency of the mind, one can gain a better ability to cope with chronic pain. A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that weekly yoga classes have proven to increase mobility for people with chronic back pain more than standard medical care [1]. This is because yoga’s healing practices – from breathing exercises to restorative poses – take into account that chronic pain is a mind-body experience, and therefore must involve both of these to find true relief. Because chronic pain is present over a significant length of time, the mind and body have learned to detect even the slightest threat and launch a full response to it. By focusing on the power of this mind-body connection, yoga can relax your mind and ease your body of both pain and stress, by taking away this overprotective response [2].

Improving Mood, Reducing Stress

Every yoga session involves focus and stillness of mind through breathing techniques. While it seems simple, very rarely do we have complete absorption in physical, mental, and breathing practice in other times throughout the day. A morning yoga session can help get your body and mind prepared to take on the challenges of the day, while evening sessions can relax the body and calm the mind down before bed.

Confidence in your Own Body

Because yoga postures can be adapted to one’s individual needs, it can help build body confidence, even after years of injury, physical limitations and pain. The more strength and flexibility one builds in their joints results in fewer injuries. So, each successful workout sends a reward to our brain, which we, in turn, want to replicate again the next day, circling the positive feedback loop. The better we feel in our minds, the better we will treat our bodies and vice versa. This symbiotic relationship is not unique to yoga, but yoga is one of the safer and healthier ways for individuals discover their limits physically, as well as expand them.

While yoga is a low-risk exercise, it still can still pose challenges for some depending on your physical circumstances. Be sure to consult with your physician or physical therapist for advice on what exercises to do – and what not to do – so that you can maximize your workout without stress or injury. Bottom line – relax and have fun!

 

[1]Harvard Medical School. https://www.health.harvard.edu/alternative-and-complementary-medicine/yoga-for-pain-relief
[2]https://yogainternational.com/article/view/restorative-yoga-for-chronic-pain
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