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Kate’s Plate: There is more to yoga than just stretching

(photo credit: D'An Holmes Photography)

Yes, that is a picture of me having way too much fun at work yet again! Can you blame me? What isn't fun about laughing hysterically and doing yoga in the middle of the day?

If it isn't abundantly clear by my face - I have unexpectedly fallen in love with yoga. Like most runners and athletes, I used to believe that yoga was only good for stretching out after a long run. I didn’t want to take the time away from running, cycling or swimming to do something else. But the truth is you can be a better athlete if your exercise routine varies and includes both strength and recovery.

The very first day I went to my studio, I remember walking in thinking, “I’m not sure about this; do I really belong here?” I only knew one person and wasn’t comfortable with yoga. Then the music came on. It was gangster rap, and I began to laugh. All of the sudden all my preconceived notions of what yoga was “supposed to be” were shattered. I immediately fell in love. The class was too hard for me, but I did my best, and more importantly it made me laugh and was fun. I was hooked. 

Since I have lost my ability to run, bike and swim, yoga is my primary source of exercise. In a typical week, I do yoga anywhere from three to six days. I have found that yoga allows me the space to clear my head and be in my body without judgment. There is no clock or time for me to beat; there is no one ahead or behind me. In yoga class all of our mats are on one, level playing field.  Sure, some people are competitive on their mats, I used to be. But now I envision myself surrounded by community, and I know we are all cheering for each other.

 (photo credit: Linden Tree Photography, #FormYoga)

Since I began yoga, my body has become stronger and more flexible, my mind is quieter and calmer. Doing yoga on a regular basis has opened up my eyes to how beneficial it can be to athletes and non-athletes alike, and I have recognized how much it can help some of my patients.

Whether you are an athlete or not, you can benefit from improved strength, balance, stability and less stress. And let’s face it: with growing commute times in Atlanta, working weekends or late into night and simply putting too much on our plates, we could all use a little dose of stress relief. 

 (photo credit: Linden Tree Photography, #FormYoga)

In recent years there has been more evidence to support yoga’s efficacy in helping reduce pain and disability [1], improving mobility [2] and even improving psychological symptoms [3], such as stress and depression.

In 2017 a meta-analysis found that yoga was helpful in relieving chronic neck pain [1]. In my PT practice I have seen that yoga in combination with PT has helped many people get through neck pain and even sleep better. In 2016 a review was published in regard to yoga that found “positive effects in relieving pain and mobility” in patients with knee osteoarthritis [2], and another review in the same year suggested that yoga can reduce pain and disability in people with low back pain [3]. There are many other studies out there that highlight the positive effects yoga has on the body, brain, mood and even depression. 

See…yoga is so much more than stretching!


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