Over the last several years, dietitians have been increasingly recommending that their patients incorporate yoga and mindfulness into daily practice to improve overall wellness. Yoga has been around for more than 5,000 years, but has been steadily gaining popularity in the United States more recently. Since 2012, the number of Americans who practice yoga has increased by 50% to over 36 million. It is a popular mind-body practice that combines physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation and has been shown to provide several health benefits.
Yoga incorporates three core components:
· Poses. Yoga poses are a series of movements that increase strength and flexibility.
· Breathing. Controlling your breathing can help to control your body and quiet your
· Meditation. This helps you to learn to be more mindful and aware of the present moment.
The practice of yoga provides several health benefits.
· Stress reduction and reduced anxiety.
· Improved mood and overall sense of well-being.
· Lower blood pressure and lower heart rate.
· Improved fitness, balance, flexibility, range of motion, muscle tone and strength.
· Improve respiration, energy, and vitality.
· Help to alleviate depression, migraines, pain, and insomnia.
· Boost immunity and increase overall health.
· Increased self-confidence and body acceptance without judgement.
Dietitians often recommend yoga because it is associated with mindful eating, an awareness of physical and emotional factors associated with eating. Regular yoga practice strengthens the mind-body connection and creates a greater cognizance of emotions involved with food cravings. Breathing exercises and relaxation help you to slow down and to make better food choices when cravings arise. An increased sense of mindfulness regarding the circumstances around food consumption and food choices results in a reduction in overeating and stress eating. Yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness and helps people to develop effective coping skills to relieve stress. People who routinely practice yoga have an increased awareness of the effects of certain foods on their bodies and overall increased self-esteem and self-acceptance. Many people have food issues around stress, anxiety and emotions and yoga helps to create a healthier relationship with food.
Yoga is a safe form of exercise for almost everyone, but be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. It is especially important to receive medical clearance from your doctor if you have a herniated disk, risk of blood clots, glaucoma, pregnancy, balance problems, osteoporosis, or uncontrolled blood pressure. Yoga is a great choice of exercise if you are interested in a holistic approach to mind, body and nutrition. People of all ages and fitness levels can participate.
There are several ways to get started with yoga if you have never tried it before. You can check out books or videos from your local library. Download an app on your smartphone, such as Down Dog or Headspace. You could also sign up for a class with a certified yoga instructor. Many people enjoy yoga in a group setting, which also helps to build new friendships.
Upland Hills Registered Dietitian, Valerie Koschnick, is a certified yoga instructor and teaches yoga classes at High Barre in Mineral Point: https://www.thehighbarre.net/