September is a great time to try yoga!

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Written by Dr. David Geier American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine

Yoga can be an effective form of exercise for almost anyone. Whether you are in great shape or you want to lose weight, there are forms of yoga that can help. If you are new to yoga, or you have injuries or physical limitations, you can modify most poses to meet your ability.

Yoga can provide many health benefits. Some might even surprise you. Yoga can lead to:

  • Better flexibility
    • Performed over a period of time, yoga can help to lengthen muscles, ligaments, and tendons, leading to improved flexibility and mobility.
  • Increased muscle strength
    • Some forms of yoga, such as power yoga or ashtanga, can help develop muscle power and strength. A variety of poses can help strengthen your upper body, lower extremities, back and core.
  • Weight loss
    • Like most forms of exercise, performing yoga burns calories. Plus regular yoga can help control food cravings and lead to more mindful eating.
  • Improved cardiovascular health
    • Yoga can help to decrease resting heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, all contributing factors to heart disease.
  • Better sleep
    • Yoga can improve sleep quality in people who deal with frequent insomnia. Breathing exercises and meditation can also help people slow their minds down and overcome stress and anxiety, factors believed to impact sleep quality.
  • Decreased pain
    • Some studies have shown that the regular practice of yoga can decrease pain from arthritis, chronic low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and headaches. Relaxation techniques and breathing might play a role.
  • Decreased stress
    • Meditation and relaxation can help to decrease stress, thought to be due in part to reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Improved mental well-being
    • The focus on meditation and breathing can relax your mind and improve focus and awareness. Over time, many people claim that they have improved peace of mind and well-being. This is one of the main reasons some people incorporate yoga into their normal routines and lives.

September is National Yoga Month. This global campaign is led by the Yoga Health Foundation to educate, motivate, and inspire people to lead healthy lifestyles. Many yoga studios across the country offer free classes during the month and plan events to promote yoga practice.

Consider giving yoga a try!

Join the conversation with this sample tweet:

Stretch your muscles & your mind during @yogamonth! @AOSSM_SportsMed talks benefits of yoga on the #BAYW blog! http://bit.ly/1mx5AHk

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