Alternative Medicine

Traditional Healing Arts

The tradition of yoga originated in India and dates back to over 5000 years ago. This is a mind-body art which combines the mental, physical, and spiritual disciplines. Through regular practice, yoga gurus cite one of the main benefits as spiritual awareness, insight, and transformation to a higher plane.

Although yoga has been an integral part of Eastern medicine for thousands of years, it is relatively new to Western practitioners. In both traditional and modern-day applications, yoga is recognized not only for spiritual enlightenment, but also as a means to attaining physical and mental fitness. In addition, yoga is very effective as a stress management and relaxation technique">relaxation technique. According to Elizabeth Scott, M.S., "In fact, many companies, especially in Britain, are seeing the benefits of yoga, recognizing that relaxed workers are healthier and more creative, and are sponsoring yoga fitness programs."

Yoga poses are called asanas, and when practiced under the tuition of an experienced practitioner, they can lead to rapid improvements in strength, flexibility, and posture. Many of these poses when practiced correctly, will build core strength. Stretching your muscles releases the buildup of lactic acid which causes pain and fatigue. Releasing the tension and stiffness in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, leads to increased flexibility and range of motion. WebMD cites that "In one study, participants had up to 35% improvement in flexibility after only eight weeks of yoga. "

It is commonly known that many physical, emotional, and mental problems, can be directly attributed to chronic stress. People are faced with many stressors on a daily basis, both on the work front as well as in their personal lives. Increased stress leads to increased anxiety and a diminished ability to engage in problem solving behavior. Our bodies and minds become so much more vulnerable and this can lead to a suppression of our immune system functioning at its optimal level. Yoga stimulates the detoxification process which facilitates elimination of toxins from our bodies and this can slow the aging process.

Practicing yoga can be very beneficial in many ways. Following are just some examples of these benefits:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve circulation and heart health
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Reduce stress
  • Increase strength and flexibility
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve breathing and lung functioning
  • Pain reduction
  • Increase endurance
  • Increase energy 
  • Improve range of motion
  • Improve immune system functioning
  • Weight control
  • Improve mood and a sense of well-being
  • Improve focus and concentration
  • Increase muscle tone
  • Improve memory
  • Improve balance
  • Increase core strength
  • Increase youth and vitality
  • Minimize the effects of menopause


As with any other exercise program people with serious medical conditions should consult with their physician before embarking on a yoga program. The Mayo Clinic cites the following conditions which would require consultation with a physician:

  • Balance problems
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Certain eye conditions, including glaucoma
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • Pregnancy
  • Artificial joints
Yoga Poses Improve Posture, Strength, and Flexibility
Credit: Freddie Tripp