If your idea of yoga is summed up in the words human pretzel and ashram, then you are missing a huge chuck of what yoga is all about. Yes, there are some weird looking poses with some equally weird names. And, yes there are places called ashrams where people go to, among other things, partake in yoga. But, if you’re more concerned with the physical than the spiritual then you should definitely look into the health and fitness benefits that yoga can bring to your life.
The poses, stretches and stances that have so characterized yoga in the public mind are derived from hundreds if not thousands of years of practice in places like India and other countries in the East. Today main people who suffer muscular, joint and movement related pain use yoga to alleviate pain, increasing their overall strength and flexibility, and perhaps most difficult, learning how to relax.
When people often hear the word yoga their minds race to some mystic-like yogis body bent like a contortionist, and they hesitate. My body is not flexible. I can’t do that. That looks like it would hurt. Phrases like these are only three of the invisible scripts that people will tell themselves to “psych” themselves out. But, these people are often the ones that need yoga the most. They need to be reminded that Rome was not built in a day and neither should they believe that they need to be able to do all the poses correctly and to the fullest range of motion in their first ever session. The body needs times to stretch, to heal and to adapt. Time is all it asks and it should be given if you are to give yoga a serious chance at making an impact in your life.
Whether yoga was originally created as a whole body exercise and stretching regimen, it certainly worked out that way. With that being said, it is still safe to say that yoga can help treat target areas like the back or the neck. By emphasizing certain postures or focusing the mobility of certain joints, areas like the neck can, in effect, be targeted.
But before jumping into yoga there are a couple of things to consider. While yoga can benefit almost everyone, there are an unfortunate few that may do more harm than good if they jump right into it. People who suffer from some sort of spinal irregularity or disease should definitely consult with their physician and physiotherapist before engaging in the more challenging poses of yoga like the headstand or back bend, as these tend to place a tremendous amount of stress and pressure on the spine and neck.
Finally, a good instructor is key to making great strides in your progress. No, they needn’t be wrapped only in loin cloth, nor do they even need to be from India. A good yoga instructor, much like a good school professor or physical trainer, will help you reach your goals without hurting you. They will be encouraging but won’t pressure you into engaging a pose or posture without making sure that you are mentally or physically ready for it.
So why not give yoga a shot? Whether it is your goal to increase flexibility, find relaxation, pain relief, or to heal parts of your body like your back and neck, yoga can definitely help. In this day and age of sedentary desk jobs and long hours hunched over digital devices, we owe it to our bodies to engage in an activity that will increase its dexterity and vitality.
Yoga for Releasing Neck Tension Video
Try this video by Gernot Huber to release neck tension, improve posture, and reduce stress.
Yoga for Back and Neck Pain Video
Here’s a great video that is suitable for all levels, including beginners.
Do you have questions or advice for people beginning yoga, or some helpful poses for others to try?
Join the discussion & leave a comment below.