How Yoga Challenged This Crossfitter with Unrealized Benefits
By Brooke Smith, DPT, FAAOMPT, CERT DN, CCI
AZOPT Goodyear Clinic Manager
As an avid Crossfitter, I enjoy a challenging workout with immediate results. So, I was skeptical when I was invited to participate in my first yoga class. Would it be difficult enough? Would I even enjoy it? Simply – yes! Not only did I notice a big improvement in my athletic ability, but some of the pain along my shoulders, neck, and low back disappeared. I even felt much less daily stress in life. So what is this great escape many take from the world and how can yoga translate back into your gym and your life?
Yoga is an ancient practice which incorporates the use of breathing techniques, meditation, flexibility, and strengthening postures to help improve overall health. Yoga does not discriminate – it is for any age, ethnicity, background, and fitness level. In recent years, yoga’s popularity has steadily risen due to people wanting to increase wellness, improve energy, as well as for disease prevention.
Some of the ways yoga can benefits your health are:
Research has shown that yoga can help with decreasing cortisol levels, the primary stress hormone, which decreases anxiety and improves mental health.
Multiple studies have shown yoga can help with migraines. Patient’s reported decreased frequency, intensity of headaches, and decreased pain. This could be due to stimulation of the Vagus nerve, which is shown effective in reducing effects of migraines.
People who practice yoga have greater drops in blood pressure. Research has also shown an improvement in lipid profiles of patients who are healthy and those known to have coronary artery disease. Yoga also decreases blood sugar levels in people with non-insulin dependent diabetes.
Research has also shown yoga to help weight management. A study by Harvard Medicine reported a reduction in weight gain in middle adulthood and those who were overweight actually lost weight. Furthermore, those who practice yoga have lower Body Mass Index (BMI).
Reducing chronic pain
People with chronic neck and back pain have shown improvement in decreasing pain levels and improving quality of life. Improvements can be linked to better flexibility, core strength, breathing/meditative techniques, and self-awareness.
Yoga is an excellent low impact activity which can lead to a reduction in balance-related falls.
Older adults who may have difficulty with other forms of exercise can participate. There are modified yoga programs from chair/seated yoga to beginner classes. Many studios and gyms have yoga instructors trained to work with older individuals and those with physical limitations, all you have to do is ask!
Bikram yoga has shown improvement in shoulder, lower back, and hamstring flexibility.
Increase in strength
A study from Colorado State University found Bikram yoga showed improvement in strength of a deadlift and decreased body fat. Some studies have even shown improvement in bone density.
So if you are new to exercise or looking for a good supplement to your workout routine, get out there and try some Yoga. For more information you can check out the references below or call up a studio near you!
1. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/body-on-yoga_n_4109595. Huffington Post
2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-benefits-beyond-the-mat. Harvard Health Publications
3. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_body/yogas-benefits-from-head-to-toe. John Hopkins Medicine
4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/yoga/art-20044733. Mayo Clinic
5. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm. NIH
6. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-benefits-of-yoga#section1. 13 Benefits of Yoga That Are Supported by Science