Benefits of Yoga

If you do an internet search about yoga you will find a plethora of information pertaining to the history of yoga, types of practices, videos and the benefits of practicing yoga.   In recent years the information about the health benefits of yoga has exploded.   So is it true or hype?  The advantages of practicing yoga on a consistent basis fall into two categories, improved physical and mental health.  Without delving too deeply, here’s a review of the myriad of positive reasons to take up a regular yoga practice. 

Usually the first thought that comes to mind when people mention yoga is flexibility.  Flexibility is one of the first benefits that you will see.  Increasing flexibility can decrease aches and pains by improving posture and decreasing muscle imbalances in the body.   Posture improvement as the result of yoga will decrease muscle and joint pain over time.

Balance improves with yoga by increasing your proprioception or awareness of the position and the movement of the body.  Having good balance is key to preventing falls which is especially important as we age. 

Yoga can improve heart health by increasing your heart rate during the practice (dependent upon the type of practice), which provides the same benefits as other forms of aerobic exercise.  Decreased blood pressure and blood sugar levels have also been noted from regular yoga practice. 

Yoga improves your strength.  Again, depending upon the type of yoga practiced, this can vary but during the practice of yoga you are lifting your body weight.  Yoga also focuses on increasing your core strength which aides in spine stability for decreasing back pain issues. 

Joint health improves by the poses throughout yoga by circulating the synovial fluid at the joints.  This decreases cartilage break down.

You may see an improvement in the quality of your sleep after practicing yoga.  Yoga nidra is a specific practice, which systematically relaxes the body and mind.  And leaves you feeling well rested.  This element of yoga bridges the gap between the benefits of body and mind. 

As mentioned, yoga decreases stress and anxiety, that negatively impact the body.  Yoga acts as an antidepressant by decreasing levels of cortisol in the body. 

As you practice yoga, you become more mindful… mindful of what you eat; mindful of the moment rather than past or future.   Yoga can increase your self-esteem with positivity and self-acceptance. 

So even if some of the benefits of yoga may be hyped, with all the possibilities why not give it a try?  Yoga is for everyone at every level.  It is something you can enjoy for your entire life! 

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Are You A Passive Patient or an Active Consumer of Healthcare?

Think about the last time you made a big purchase, say $1,000 or more. Did you go out and buy the first thing you saw? Take one recommendation from somebody? Or did you research it, learn some things, compare it to other options, and select something that was right for you? Most people tend to be educated and research large purchases like cars, televisions, or the newest iphone. So why do we so often fail to do this with healthcare?

By becoming more educated healthcare consumers we can go from passive patients who take the first recommendation that comes from a practitioner to an active consumer who weighs options and makes choices. Here are some questions to talk through with your practitioner the next time a healthcare decision comes up.

What are the benefits or expected results?
When a treatment or procedure is recommended, the patient often assumes that it will make them "better." But what the patient expects and what the healthcare provider expects are often two different things. For example, a patient having back surgery expects to be pain free after surgery. The surgeon probably doesn't expect that to happen. Outcomes from back surgeries are terrible. A large study of 1450 patients in the Ohio worker's comp system showed that after 2 years 26% of patients who had surgery returned to work. Compare that to 67% of patients who didn't have surgery. There was also a 41% increase in the use of painkillers in the surgical group.

What are the risks and downsides?
Patients want to hear about the benefits of a treatment, but they often don't ask or care about the risks. To be an educated consumer, you need to. If one treatment has a 3% edge over another, but has a high risk of making you itchy or causing frequent headaches, do you want it? Going back to the back surgery study from before, the researchers found a 1 in 4 chance of a repeat surgery and a 1 in 3 chance of a major complication. With surgery you risk infection, blood clots, complications with anesthesia, and a whole host of other things. These risks need compared with other treatments. In the case of back pain, physical therapy is a valid alternative with a much lower risk profile. You might have some soreness with physical therapy, you might sweat some and be challenged with exercise, but the risks of PT compared to surgery are minimal.

What are the alternatives?
Don't feel bad asking about alternative treatments. If you were looking at a certain car you wouldn't go out and just buy it. You'd at least consider the competitors and probably even test drive them. You should at least look at the other options in healthcare too. Maybe the

Heat, humidity and hydration

Heat indexes are rising this weekend so it is important to remember to stay hydrated and take shelter from the heat.  So, is there any way to know if you are at risk for dehydration?  According to the July 2019 NATA News if you awake in the morning, and are more than 1% lighter than the prior day, have dark yellow to golden or brownish urine and you feel thirsty, this makes you very likely to be at risk of dehydration when participating in activities in hot/humid conditions.  If two of those three conditions are present, you are likely to be at risk of dehydration. 

 Please know that certain vitamins and medications can alter the color of your urine too.  Some ways to stay hydrated include drinking water, milk and sports drinks.  Other food sources for improving hydration include watermelon, strawberries, bananas (because they are high in potassium, a nutrient important for muscle function), iceberg lettuce and spinach, cucumbers and radishes(especially peeled to reduce the fiber content), celery, and cauliflower (which is 92% water by weight).  You need to stay hydrated before activities in the heat, during the activity and after the activity.  Don’t let yourself become dehydrated and suffer heat exhaustion or heat stroke which could lead to death.  Think before you plan any outdoor activities, especially on hot and humid days like the predicted conditions for the upcoming weekend.  Please stay safe and healthy during the hottest days of the summer!


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Disclaimer:  The information in this medical library is intended for informational and educational purposes only and in no way should be taken to be the provision or practice of physical therapy, medical, or professional healthcare advice or services. The information should not be considered complete or exhaustive and should not be used for diagnostic or treatment purposes without first consulting with your physical therapist, physician or other healthcare provider. The owners of this website accept no responsibility for the misuse of information contained within this website.

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