The Health Benefits of Yoga

As women, we have a lot of stresses in our lives. We are mothers, we are wives, we are taking care of parents in some cases and working full-time in a lot of cases as well, and involved in community events. Sometimes that stress can really get to us. I wanted to talk about the benefits of yoga because so many people are talking about it now and enrolling in yoga classes. So I talked with Renee Mason, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist with ProMedica Physicians.

As a physician, what do you see as the benefits of yoga for women?

How much time do we have? There are so many benefits! Strength, flexibility and balance, and those things are going to carry us through until our later years as benefits. Using our own bodyweight for yoga is going to protect our bones against osteoporosis, we’re going to strengthen our muscles, we’re going to help with maybe back pain and some discomfort because if you’re not flexible in your hamstrings it’s going to play a role in back pain. So, physically there are multiple benefits.

There are emotional and psychological benefits as well. Decreasing anxiety, alleviating some depression, helping with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and for women especially, we put ourselves last a lot of times. So sometimes if we take some time for ourselves, it can help with our own self esteem, our own body image, our own mindfulness. Across the board, there are so many benefits. It’s great.

I think sometimes people might be a little intimidated by yoga. You see things on TV or you see people stretching in ways that you think to yourself, There is no way I could do that! What can you tell us about not being intimidated about taking a class?

Everybody is on their own journey. So you can be a beginner and find a class that’s going to work great for you. It’s not about what the person next to you is doing; it’s about how you feel in your own body and how you feel in your own space and how it’s working for you. I wouldn’t expect you to start today and go run a marathon, so I don’t expect you to start yoga today and be able to do headstands.

New to yoga? Try it out with this 15-minute chair yoga exercise:

Try it now!