Fitness Magazine

How Yoga Helps with Medical Conditions: Prevention

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Baxter

How Yoga Helps with Medical Conditions: Prevention

Hygieia by Gustav Klimt

In our post 5 Ways Yoga Can Affect Your Health from a while back, I identified six ways that yoga helps with your health. And although that way of framing how yoga supports good health is still accurate, Nina and I recently realized we could simplify our list of six into a more helpful list of three: 1) prevention, 2) curing, and 3) as an adjunct to other forms of treatment. Today, I want to discuss what we mean by “prevention.” To put it simply, this means you are using yoga to: 
1. Prevent diseases or conditions from developing.
2. Prevent a disease or condition that you already have from getting worse. 
Now let’s take a closer look at both of these ways you can use yoga for prevention.
Preventing Diseases or Conditions from Developing  
One valuable way you can use yoga for prevention is to promote your overall health in general. Yoga is particularly effective for this because a well-rounded yoga practice that includes an active asana practice, stress management practices, and equanimity practices can help prevent diseases and conditions caused by sedentary behavior and/or chronic stress, such as obesity, heart diseases, cancer, and diabetes. Because a well-rounded asana practice includes active strength, flexibility, balance and agility practices, yoga can also help prevent problems related to being sedentary, including osteoporosis, sarcopenia, balance problems, and falls. And yoga’s stress management practices are good preventative medicine for fostering good emotional and mental health, at the same time they helps foster physical health.
Another valuable way to use yoga for prevention is to focus on preventing a particular disease or condition that you’re concerned about. For example, if you have risk factors for osteoporosis, you can emphasize strength practices to build both bone and muscle strength. Or, if you have cardiovascular diseases running in your family, you can emphasize cardiovascular health practices to prevent the development of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, irregular heart rhythms, and congestive heart failure.
Preventing Diseases or Conditions from Getting Worse 
If you already have a medical condition, depending on the type of condition, you may be able to focus on preventing it from progressing further. Yoga is particularly beneficial for conditions that benefit from working on physical skills, cardiovascular practices, and stress management In general, some conditions that yoga can help prevent from getting worse include: osteopenia, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, arthritis, diabetes, and high blood pressure. 
Here are a few examples of how it works: If you have sarcopenia of the muscles or osteopenia and osteoporosis of the bones, you can focus on appropriate strength-building practice to hold the condition at bay and in the case of osteopenia prevent it from progressing to osteoporosis and, in some cases, even reversing it somewhat. If you have arthritis, you can focus on flexibility practices to prevent more loss of mobility in your joints, sometimes delaying or maybe even avoiding a joint replacement.
And if you already have high blood pressure, you can focus on lowering your numbers with asana and stress management practices to prevent it from progressing to heart attack, stroke, irregular heart rhythm, or congestive heart failure.
For All Types of Prevention 
Keep in mind that yoga alone may not be enough for the best prevention approach. So you may need to combine yoga with other preventive strategies that your family doctor recommends, such as more aerobic activities or special dietary recommendations. But yoga is a great complement to western medicine. The ultimate goal is your ongoing wellness!
And it is equally important to remember there are no guarantees, and eventually with age and time, we will have to face some serious illness. But it is surely worthwhile to try to delay them in the meantime!
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