The practice of yoga originated around 5000 years ago in India as a spiritual practice. The need for greater personal freedom, good health, longer life and higher self-awareness sparked the practice of yoga. The term yoga is a Sanskrit term meaning union, specifically union of the body, mind, and spirit. Yoga can help an individual decrease anxiety, relax, and improve protective posturing after injury.
The central focus of yoga is breathing and allowing the flow of prana (Sanskrit for energy) through proper breathing. Depending on the type of yoga, asanas (Sanskrit for postures) will be of a flowing nature or held for a few breaths, increasing flexibility.
Most of our daily activities result in our bodies having poor posture and if prolonged, poor alignments can lead to pinching and shortening of structures. Through yoga, postural awareness is improved and the strengthening of postural muscles is achieved by holding poses in proper alignment. A physical therapist might recommend that you do Yoga while you are in physical therapy to help improve your posture.
Yoga practices include balancing the body to maintain poses. Varying degrees of difficulty can be practiced to challenge an individual's posture and balance. Practicing yoga can improve balance and increase core control.
Through proper breathing techniques, yoga allows for purification of toxins in the body. Some types of yoga utilize heated rooms or intense internal heat to encourage sweating allowing the body to eliminate toxins.
If you are looking for a low impact exercise but would like to try something different, read the following article on 6 low-impact exercises. Yoga can also help with chronic conditions like arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Always remember to talk with your yoga instructor or physical therapist if you have physical limitations or injuries so that proper adjustments can be made. It is important to not push through or ignore physical limitations when practicing yoga.