When my clients ask me what they can do in between massage therapy treatments, I often suggest that they practice Yoga. I have found Yoga to be profoundly healing in several different aspects. And not only have I witnessed it with several of my clients, but firsthand with my own body.
I’ve been doing bodywork in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah for almost 5 years, and I have regularly turned to Yoga to alleviate my own pain. In this day and age, most of our professions require very repetitive movements over the course of several hours. This repetition can wreak havoc on muscles, joints and our entire skeletal structure.
For example, my profession requires me to stand for long periods of time, with a slight lean. This can put much pressure onto the lower back. Of course, there is much to be said for keeping healthy posture, but I know it can be hard to maintain it and be aware of it at all times.
When I began my massage therapy career, I almost immediately started to feel the aches and pains associated with a physically demanding job. At the time, I was working in a chiropractic clinic. I remember coming home from work some days, and lying on my living room floor because it was the only relief from my intense lower back pain. I felt discouraged and began thinking that this was not a good career choice. I loved the work I did, but thought it might be too taxing on my body.
After 2 months of aggravating low back pain, a friend of mine suggested I try Yoga. I knew it couldn’t hurt to investigate. After 2 sessions of yoga, I felt incredibly better. After 6 sessions, my lumbar pain was gone and has never again returned. And these days I use both yoga and massage therapy for body maintenance.
Yoga and bodywork are actually similar in many ways, in my opinion. They can both be used for maintenance to uphold our bodies’ structural integrity. They are both meditative practices, calming the mind and the spirit, and providing effective relief from stress. Of course, they both greatly heal muscles by lengthening and relaxing the tissue. And either of these treatments are valuable in preserving a healthy spine.
So what is yoga and where does it come from? Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines stretching exercises, controlled breathing and relaxation. It is an ancient Indian body of knowledge that dates back more than 500 years ago. It fasciantes me that Yoga is not just an exercise or assortment of strengthening poses, but its very own philosophy. The word “Yoga” came from the Sanskrit word “yuj” which means “to unite or integrate.” In order for man to be in harmony with himself and his environment, he has to integrate the body, the mind, and the spirit.
People who practice yoga believe that the body must be treated with care and respect, for it is the primary instrument in man’s work and growth. And I am a firm believer in honoring your body, because of the many ways that it serves you in your lifetime.
I’ve mentioned above a few of the benefits of yoga, but what else can it do for us?
– Yoga increases flexibility. I am frequently telling my clients to stretch every day, to avoid daily aches and pains. You could say Yoga encompasses the art of stretching and flexibility.
– It increases muscle strength and improves athletic performance. Many of the athletes I work on practice yoga to cross train. It helps build strength, especially in the core and shoulder girdle.
– Yoga can balance your metabolism and encourage weight-loss. Not only does this exercise stretch you out and strengthen you; it is a great way to burn a lot of calories!
– And due to Yoga’s stress-reducing properties, many dysfunctions can be eliminated like: Insomnia, high blood pressure, headaches, and negative thoughts.
I obviously am a huge fan of Yoga and encourage everyone to just try it once. Just like everything else, it’s not for us all. But I know that when I found it, it freed me from intense physical pain.
You can find Yoga studios almost anywhere. They are certainly quite popular here in Salt Lake City, Utah and all across the United States. I suggest buying a DVD initially and trying it at home. If you feel good after your first session, try calling a local yoga studio or signing up for a class at your gym. I prefer practicing yoga on my own, in my home. Because of its meditative qualities, Yoga works best for me when I’m all alone. It helps me better connect to my body and my thoughts.
But the beauty of this practice is that it’s completely individualized. What might feel good to someone, may not feel good to another. You must find which poses feel best to you, how long to hold your poses, and which do not feel good. It certainly is a liberating experience to create such body awareness in yourself. If you want more info about Yoga, flexibility or bodywork, please call me at 801-349-3934 today. Namaste.