Yoga is fantastic for you. It’s a form of exercise and relaxation because stress is a killer. Exercise is the best thing you can do for yourself, other than quitting smoking. That would make yoga practically medicine.
But it’s not. It can treat and prevent certain ailments, but it is not medicine.
If you broke your leg, tore your ACL, are fighting a cold, or have whiplash, don’t go for the yoga studio. Try visiting a doctor.
What’s the Difference?
Yoga can help treat a variety of ailments, and has actually provided relief to thousands of Americans with back, neck, or sciatica pain. But it won’t magically fix a broken leg. And since it is a form of exercise, it can exacerbate certain ailments like a wrist injury if you lean on it during certain poses. You can still love and do yoga — just understand that there are times you should stay home, skip a workout, and definitely let your teacher know so they can guide you away from hurting yourself.
Why You Shouldn’t Go In
There are certain times when it is not good to head into class. Most of the time a little yoga will probably be great for you: get a little exercise, relax, build your muscles, and generally do good by your body. If you sustain an injury, even one that seems minor, you should avoid straining the affected area for a couple days. However, if you have a major injury, you need to stay home and rest.
If you go into a yoga class just after major back surgery, they may ask you to leave, and for good reason. If you’re supposed to be on bed rest, a bad twist, or pressure in the wrong place could cause you to become paralyzed or die, which is huge risk for the teacher, who could be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
If there is a reason that regular exercise could injure you, it’s best to avoid it. Yoga is just like any other form of exercise, and doesn’t hold a magic exception card simply because it’s low-impact. If you feel like the stomach flu is coming on, have a knee injury, or any other condition that could be exasperated by physical exertion, try to avoid exerting yourself on the mat. Physical therapy and doctors are there for a reason. That being said, sometimes yoga could be exactly what the doctor ordered.
When It’s Just What the Doctor Ordered
Yoga could be exactly what you need, and it is for many people. If you’ve consulted a medical professional and they recommend a low-impact exercise for you to improve your flexibility — or if they simply say “try yoga” — it’s time to step back on the mat.
Yoga can be good in treating chronic pain, it can help cardiovascular health, and prevent aging. It helps support other activities you may love, like marathons, biking, and surfing. It can be dirt cheap, you can learn it from a variety of sources, and you can do it anywhere. Yoga is perfect for a variety of ailments and is fantastic for maintaining a healthy body, as long as you have been approved by your doctor to perform light exercises.
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