Yoga can work wonders, but caution is the key word

Experts say yoga is a holistic approach to treat various disorders, but it is a slow process and takes time to show results

By Deepanwita Gita Niyogi
Published: Tuesday 20 June 2017

 Yoga has numerous benefits, but caution is the keyword while practising postures
Credit: Global Panorama/Flickr

Yoga with all its benefits may cause muscular strain and serious spine injuries if not practised with caution. But this does not mean we cannot practice yoga. Yoga has a host of benefits as well. According to experts, it is good for arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, joint, back and neck pain, but it has to be done correctly.

Orthopaedic experts say that daily yoga practice can help build bone mass and prevent musculoskeletal problems. However, people suffering from musculoskeletal conditions should take precaution before doing yoga.

Bone formation

“Regular practice of yoga makes bones stronger and healthier. It improves physical posture and helps in keeping the spinal cord healthy,” Raju Vaishya, senior consultant, orthopaedics & joint replacement surgery, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, says.

When you do exercise, you do two things: one you take weight on the bones and second you exert pressure on the bones through muscles. So, when one does these things, the bone forming cells (osteoblasts) get excited and produce more bones, Vaishya adds.

More bone formation is good for osteoporosis. In osteoporosis, the balance between bone formation and bone decay is disturbed. More decay happens than formation. “Yoga increases bone formation which continues till death, but gets slowed down with age,” the doctor says.

Guidance a must

Mukesh Kumar, executive head of the Yogshala centre in Ghaziabad, says yoga should be done under proper guidance. “It should not be done like gymming. Yoga ensures toning of the muscles. Both static and dynamic exercises come under yoga. Yoga practitioners should be in a relaxed position and there should not be any jerking movement of the body which can cause muscle strains and cramps.”

At the yogshala, patients are asked the past history of their diseases before being prescribed postures and proper diet. “It is a holistic approach to treat disorders, but it is a slow process and takes time to show results. Though yoga cannot cure everything, it can certainly aid in betterment of life,” Kumar adds.

"The number of yoga injuries I get (injured backs , necks and shoulders) is too high. This happens when people don't do yoga under expert guidance. Every pose is not suitable for everyone. Everyone has a different body structure. There is no one size that fits all," Sunil Mehra, senior journalist and teacher at Studio Abhyas, says. 

Lifestyle diseases, obesity

Delhi-based yoga expert Smita Dhar says she has successfully supported her students in controlling and managing lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, hypothyroidism, chronic back pain and spinal cord conditions.

“Effective, gentle and mindful yoga practices do support healing of any condition. Yoga works towards addressing the root cause of conditions and allows the body to open, breathe and heal naturally,” she adds.

Yoga with all its benefits may cause muscular strain and serious spine injuries if not practised with caution
Credit: Dave Rosenblum/Flickr

Lokesh Bharadwaj, yoga teacher at Studio Abhyas, agrees that yoga helps in controlling lifestyle diseases. Two of the most common lifestyle diseases are obesity and high blood pressure. This is the result of our eating habits as well. Earlier, our body had a natural healing power when we used to eat healthy food. But nowadays we are eating bad food, which contributes to weight gain, Bharadwaj says. “To help beat stress and keep oneself calm, exhalation through ujjayi pranayam is helpful. Combination of Ujjayi pranayam and asanas works on the muscular structure and glands. This pranayam also works magic on the thyroid gland.”

For Mehra, yoga was like a “sanity anchor” which helped him cope in a high stress job. However, yoga is not a magic medicine. It is more like an aid to cure. Pranayam practice like Kapalbhati can help those who want to lose weight. But Mehra cautions that Kapalbhati should best be avoided by those with high blood pressure. 

For Seema Sondhi, an expert at The Yoga Studio in Hauz Khas, regular yoga practice helped her gain body strength after an accident. “I was able to walk without a belt in a few months. Regular practice increased my endurance level and I was in a much better position to bear the pain that occurred due to slip dics. The most important change was that I was able to control my mind. This happened through the medium of breathing.”

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