Yoga for exercise and fitness is growing in popularity. When I ask my clients about their hobbies or exercises that they do, many clients tell me that they have tried yoga before or practice yoga regularly. I personally practice yoga on a weekly basis and enjoy it very much! Knowing the multiple benefits of yoga along with my knowledge in human physiology and anatomy as a physiotherapist, I value incorporating yoga into the physiotherapy exercises or stretches that I prescribe to my clients (when indicated and appropriate). Moreover, with the multitude of yoga poses and yoga types (read my post on What Types of Yoga I Practice And Why to learn more) I realized that yoga can target various client goals in physiotherapy. In fact, many of my clients enjoy their yoga “homework” much more than traditional exercises and end up joining yoga classes after finishing their physiotherapy with me!
Here are 5 reasons why I incorporate yoga into my physiotherapy practice:
- Yoga (when done safely and appropriately) targets numerous physical goals for clients:
- Body awareness and posture
- Flexibility and range of motion
- Muscle strength and muscle tone
- Balance and proprioception
- Endurance and activity tolerance
- Pain reduction and increased pain threshold
- Yoga is also regarded as a form of alternative medicine or mind-body medicine (Posadski & Parekh, 2009) with various mental health benefits:
- Incorporates breathing techniques that improve focus and concentration
- Improves mind-body awareness and promotes mindfulness
- Produces relaxation, which reduces stress/anxiety and improves sleep
- Yoga improves motivation and participation in therapy or home exercises:
- It’s fun! Clients are more engaged because yoga involves multiple postures, which improves continuation and practice of exercises at home
- Good entry point to improve fitness and increase activity level for clients who don’t exercise regularly
- Clients can workout the entire body (depending on level of difficulty and type of yoga)
- Like any exercise, I can individually tailor yoga exercises to each client’s unique needs and goals:
- Leading to greater interest and participation in physiotherapy
- Poses and difficulty level can be modified and personalized (This is an important point that I make to my clients because a lot of people think that they are not flexible enough to do yoga!)
- Studies have found yoga to be beneficial for conditions and populations such as:
- Type 2 diabetes (Innes & Selfe, 2016)
- Depression and anxiety (Kirkwood, Rampes, Tuffrey, Richardson & Pilkington, 2005)
- Sleep disturbance
- Atrial fibrillation (Lakkireddy et al., 2013)
- Stroke (Schmid, Miller, Van Puymbroeck & DeBaun-Sprague, 2014)
- Chronic neck or back pain (Michalsen et al., 2012)
- Knee osteoarthritis (Kuntz et al., 2018)
- Balance problems or falls risk in older adults (Swain & McGwin, 2016)
It is evident that yoga has multiple benefits but I do caution that like any exercise, if not performed properly or safely, yoga can also lead to injuries. Read my blog post on Common Yoga Injuries And How To Prevent Them to learn more.
Interested in reading more blog posts on yoga? Also check out:
If you are interested but unsure if you should try yoga, please consult a registered physiotherapist or certified yoga instructor before trying it. I am always excited to hear from my readers! Please visit Contact if you have any questions, comments or feedback for me 🙂
Gura, S. T. (2002). Yoga for stress reduction and injury prevention at work. Work, 19(1), 3-7.
Innes KE, Selfe TK. Yoga for adults with type 2 diabetes: a systematic review of controlled trials. J Diabetes Res. 2016;2016:6979370.
Kirkwood, G., Rampes, H., Tuffrey, V., Richardson, J., & Pilkington, K. (2005). Yoga for anxiety: a systematic review of the research evidence. British journal of sports medicine, 39(12), 884-891.
Lakkireddy, D., Atkins, D., Pillarisetti, J., Ryschon, K., Bommana, S., Drisko, J., … & Dawn, B. (2013). Effect of yoga on arrhythmia burden, anxiety, depression, and quality of life in paroxysmal atrial fibrillation: the YOGA My Heart Study. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 61(11), 1177-1182.
Michalsen, A., Traitteur, H., Lüdtke, R., Brunnhuber, S., Meier, L., Jeitler, M., … & Kessler, C. (2012). Yoga for chronic neck pain: a pilot randomized controlled clinical trial. The Journal of Pain, 13(11), 1122-1130.
Posadzki, P., & Parekh, S. (2009). Yoga and physiotherapy: a speculative review and conceptual synthesis. Chinese journal of integrative medicine, 15(1), 66-72.
Schmid, A. A., Miller, K. K., Van Puymbroeck, M., & DeBaun-Sprague, E. (2014). Yoga leads to multiple physical improvements after stroke, a pilot study. Complementary therapies in medicine, 22(6), 994-1000.
Swain, T. A., & McGwin, G. (2016). Yoga-related injuries in the United States from 2001 to 2014. Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine, 4(11), 2325967116671703.