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Yoga and Physical Therapy

If you’ve ever tried, thought about trying, or even laughed at the idea of trying yoga, then you probably have at least some idea of what yoga consists of. But did you know it could help compliment the goals you’re working towards in Physical Therapy? Many PTs work in several yoga positions and postures into their weekly Physical Therapy programs. Have you ever been given an exercise like Cat/Camel or Child’s Pose? If you didn’t know it already, these poses are very common in yoga practice. Yoga incorporates breathing techniques, balance, flexibility, and gentle strengthening to help improve physical and mental health. Your Physical Therapy program likely includes many, if not all of those same goals aimed at improving function.

In Physical Therapy, often times our rehab programs are not aimed at just one body part/region. If you came in with pain in your shoulder, odds are your PT examined that shoulder but also incorporated your neck, upper back, and other areas into your program as well. This is because each of our body regions has specific requirements for mobility, as well as stability. When one area is not performing the way that it should, other areas begin to compensate. This often means that the shoulder pain you are feeling may actually be the result of dysfunction somewhere else, like decreased mobility in your thoracic spine. In yoga, one singular pose/posture has the ability to target multiple body areas to help maximize function throughout your kinetic chain. For example, when you sink back into a Child’s Pose you can create a stretch through your lower back, upper back and shoulders. However, you can also benefit from this stretch if you have impaired hip or knee mobility, using it to slowly sink back towards your heels as tolerated. Feeling stiffer on one side of your back than the other? Relax into this pose and let your arms angle you more to one side, then the other. If you have difficulty even getting into this position, there are several other ways to begin with the ultimate goal of reaching this pose. Just one pose, but many ways to customize it to fit your rehab needs.

Yoga has many different types of practice and is now available in more formats than ever, including options for various ways to practice in the comfort of your own home (especially since the start of Covid-19). Whether you are young or old, recovering from an injury or perfectly healthy, looking to begin a full program or just a couple of poses, there is a safe way for you to incorporate yoga into your weekly routine. Yoga has options for practice in standing, sitting in a chair, sitting on the floor, and more. If you take a class with a certified yoga Instructor (and for safest results you should be sure to check that your instructor has been “200 Hour Certified”) they will be able to adjust your practice so that the poses work best for you individually. If you plan to try something without a live instructor, your physical therapist can help identify your specific limitations and guide you towards positions that are safe for you. As always, talk to your doctor or physical therapist before trying any new exercises. Ask if they think yoga might be an option for you!


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