Yoga is a perfect example of an exercise that affects every part of your body. As an Osteopathic physician (D.O.) my training emphasized the inter-relationships of all the systems of the body rather than viewing each system individually. If you think about it, this is just common sense and why I find yoga so appealing. When you google “the medical benefits of yoga”, you’ll see research from Harvard and the NIH stating the many positive health benefits of yoga. As a physician, when I read research that’s been done at Harvard or the National Institutes of Health then I’m taking it seriously. The physical benefits of yoga include increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, improved breathing, more energy and vitality, weight reduction, improved cardio and circulatory health, pain reduction, improved athletic performance and protection from injury. The mental benefits include increased clarity and calmness, increased body awareness, relieving chronic stress patterns, relaxing the mind, centering attention and sharpening concentration. Personally I think the non-yoga student has trouble taking that plunge simply because of all the different types of advertised yoga – Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram, Hot Yoga, Kundalini, Yin Yoga, Restorative yoga, Chair yoga and Power yoga to name a few! My advice is to take a beginner’s class for a few of the yoga types and see what you like. Classes can be geared towards high-energy workouts, extended holding time of postures or heated rooms at various temperatures up to 110 degrees. There are classes specific for seniors, pregnant women, high-intensity athletes, people with injuries and even small children. There’s yoga for pets! I started practicing yoga over 15 years ago because of chronic back pain – yoga has increased my back and hip flexibility, strengthened my abdominal muscles which relieves pressure off my lower back, made me more aware of how my own body mechanics work so I injure myself a lot less, calms my brain during class and for hours after and, most importantly, helped my back pain tremendously. Also, people who practice yoga a couple times a week lose weight and eat a healthier diet. You should do yoga in a certified studio or with a personal instructor watching you closely to modify positions and tomake sure you’re doing things correctly – the TV or computer in your living room is not the place to begin a yoga practice. I’ve starting a complimentary program called Dr Bralow’s Beginner-cise in order to introduce different types of exercise to my patients – the next session is Friday 9/15 and is…you guessed it – YOGA! The class begins at 4pm and is being held at The Yoga Garden, 903 South Street, 19147. There is no cost, so please join us. Details can be found at www.bralowmedicalgroup.com. Namaste.