The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1138: What Are the Health Benefits of Yoga?

Yoga therapist Carol Krucoff explains the health benefits of yoga, regardless of age or fitness. Yoga goes far beyond poses to breathing and ethical living.
Carol Krucoff, co-author of Relax into Yoga for Seniors
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What Are the Health Benefits of Yoga?

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Yoga has become extremely popular over the last few decades. You have probably seen photographs of fit-looking young people in stretchy clothing and improbable poses and wondered why they are so enthusiastic about this practice. However, yoga is not about extreme poses or looking good. Practicing yoga is a path to good health. What exactly are the health benefits of yoga?

What Are the Health Benefits of Yoga?

Regular yoga practice reduces cardiovascular risk, so that people are less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke. It can help control back or neck pain. In addition, people who practice yoga improve their strength, flexibility, endurance and balance. These benefits can reduce the risk of a dangerous fall.

Mental Health Benefits of Yoga:

Research has shown that people who practice yoga on a regular basis are less anxious and less likely to become depressed. Some people find yoga helpful in strengthening their coping strategies as they undergo treatment for breast cancer or prostate cancer. Yoga practice can also improve people’s self-perception and enhance their confidence.

Does Yoga Have Age Limits?

You are never too old to benefit from yoga. If you can breathe, you can derive health benefits of yoga, whether or not you can touch your toes. Likewise, even young children can learn simple poses and get benefit from their yoga practice.

This Week’s Guest:

Carol Krucoff is co-director of the Integrative Yoga for Seniors teacher training, offered at Duke Integrative Medicine and the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, designed to help yoga instructors safely adapt the practice to older bodies, minds and spirit. A frequent contributor to Yoga Journal, Carol served as founding editor of the Health Section of The Washington Post, where her syndicated column, Bodyworks, appeared for twelve years. She has written for numerous national publications, including The New York Times, Reader’s Digest and The Huffington Post.

Carol is the author of several books, including her most recent book (with Kimberly Carson): Relax into Yoga for Seniors: A Six-Week Program for Strength, Balance, Flexibility, and Pain Relief. 
Her previous book was Yoga Sparks: 108 Easy Practices for Stress Relief in a Minute or Less.

Her websites are www.healingmoves.com and www.yoga4seniors.com.

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    About the Author
    Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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    You could perhaps do a segment on Tai Chi also. There are a variety of forms of it, I do Taoist Tai Chi, 108 move sets.

    Yoga

    The goal of all forms of yoga is to obtain oneness with the universe.

    That’s also known as the process of enlightenment, or *union with Brahman,* Hinduism’s highest god.

    My husband is 83 yrs & I’m 80. We have started doing yoga an hour or so before bedtime. We have found we fall asleep rapidly and sleep deeply, with usually one bathroom visit but are able to return to sleep. I highly recommend doing yoga for seniors. Learning deep breathing has had an additional benefit. We both had been bothered with phlegm & feeling choked up during the day. The deep breathing has all but vanquished that problem.

    I agree with everything you’ve written, except helping with breast cancer. I had to stop after my surgery because some of the poses were painful, i.e.,stretching my arm or laying on my side. It has been over a year, and although I am happily back to yoga, there are still some stretches I cannot do.

    * Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^