Is Yoga The Answer?


By: Christine King Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers

Happy New Year! For many people, this is the time of year to dust off the athletic clothes and get thee to the gym, fitness or yoga studio. Yoga is one method people use to once again, get back on the horse; or rather the pigeon, cat, cow, dog or the many other names used for various yoga poses.

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, yoga practice among American adults increased 50 percent between 2012 and 2017. The benefits of yoga, dependent on the frequency of practice, are numerous; flexibility, strength, calming the mind, improving breathing, and more.

Those who practice yoga regularly are frequently fanatics about encouraging their friends to join “their” class. One important factor to consider is that just with any exercise routine, yoga does come with its risks.

A study published in 2016 in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine reported emergency room visits from 2001-2014 were close to 30,000, for yoga-related injuries.  Most injuries were related to upper body and strains and sprains.

There are many, many types of yoga classes and instructors. Being enthusiastic about embarking on your yoga practice is exactly what your doctor, fitness professionals, and seasoned yoga instructors want to hear.  However, precautions are necessary. It would be irresponsible as an industry to cheer you on as you walk into your very first yoga class, a 90-minute grueling hot yoga class that a beginner has no business even peeking into the door.

Instead, approach all of your new health and fitness endeavors with first, permission from your doctor and directives for any contraindications. Next, speak to the establishment to learn the type of yoga offered. Ask for a private consultation with the instructor to learn more so you can determine as to whether or not you’re in the right place.

Additionally, ask to watch a class to see the movements and determine whether or not you feel they’re right for your body. If you’re feeling positive about the discussion with the instructor and what you saw in the class, I highly suggest booking at least one private lesson with the instructor.

These precautions allow for one-on-one attention to address movements or poses that don’t feel quite right. This session also provides the instructor with the opportunity to demonstrate  alternatives for those movements.

Above all, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. There should be no judgment from anyone on this principle. You know your body and its limitations. In the fitness and movement world, there is no such mantra as “push through the pain,” particularly for beginner and intermediate students.

The enthusiasm for beginning any activity program is contagious for those of us who work in the industry. We love to see people start new ventures to improve their health and wellness. We also have a fiduciary to ensure you are safe. We’re responsible for discussing serious concerns with your physician.

One crucial point to remember, one that is a creed for our team. In general, there is no “bad exercise.” Some movements can be modified, morphed, and substituted as you build strength, flexibility, and stamina. Another creed is “there is no one right answer.”

Christine King is a Medical Exercise Specialist, Fitness Expert, and Founder of YourBestFit. The health and wellness company has helped thousands of clients recover from injuries, look and feel better and improve their overall well-being.