Topic Overview

What is yoga?

Hatha yoga includes meditation and
exercises to help you improve flexibility and breathing, decrease stress, and
maintain health. People have practiced yoga for thousands of years in India.
Yoga is based on the idea that the mind and body are one. Practitioners believe
that yoga improves health by improving how you see the world, which calms the
spirit and decreases stress.

Two basic components of Hatha yoga
are proper breathing and exercises, called postures, that stretch the body. You
do postures while standing, lying down, sitting in a chair, or in a headstand
position. While practicing a posture, you do breathing exercises to help relax
your muscles, maintain the posture, and focus your mind.

Hatha is
one of many types of yoga. While each type focuses on different aspects of
yoga, all share the same goal, which is not only improved physical and mental
health, but achievement of “oneness” with a higher being, the self, or some
form of higher awareness.

What is yoga used for?

Most people who try yoga
for meditation find that it increases their flexibility and reduces stress. If
you suffer from a long-term (chronic) medical condition, you can often combine
yoga and conventional medical treatment.

Several studies have
shown that yoga helps lower
blood pressure, improves a person’s sense of
well-being, reduces fatigue, and can help people who have
asthma learn to breathe more easily.

Is yoga safe?

Experts consider yoga to be safe.

Always tell your doctor if you are using an alternative therapy
or if you are thinking about combining an alternative therapy with your
conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional
medical treatment and rely only on an alternative therapy.

Like
any physical activity, yoga can cause muscle strains or sprains. Gentle
stretching before a yoga session can help prevent injuries.

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Miryala R, et al. (2011). Yoga. In M Micozzi, ed., Fundamentals of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 4th ed., pp. 482-494. St. Louis: Saunders.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine

Current as ofMarch 3, 2017

Current as of:
March 3, 2017