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Deciding If Yoga Fits with Your Personal Wellness Goals

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By Donna L. Hamilton, MD

Yoga classes abound: traditional yoga, hot yoga, power yoga, yoga for fitness, yoga at church. The list goes on. With so many options, it might be challenging to decide if yoga fits into your personal wellness plan. Understanding yoga basics can help you decide what’s best for you and if yoga makes sense for your wellness regimen.

Yoga principles complement a holistic health approach that addresses multiple factors addressing health.  Yoga stems from a philosophy of mind-body unity. By definition all yoga strives to engage practitioners physically and mentally.  It also has other elements that can address other health factors, such as emotional, social, and  spiritual well-being.

Knowing your personal wellness goals can help with selecting a class that best suits your needs. Yoga is based on eight key sutras or foundations. Understanding yoga sutras can also help determine which yoga style and instructor best support your wellness needs.

The Eight Yoga Sutras

  1. Moral behavior (yama): Can help with spiritual wellness.
  2. Healthy Habits (niyama): Can help with physical wellness.
  3. Physical Postures (asana): Can help with physical wellness.
  4. Breathing Exercises (pranayama): Can help with physical wellness.
  5. Sense Withdrawal (pratyahara): Can help with mental wellness.
  6. Concentration (dharana): Can help with mental wellness.
  7. Contemplation (dhyan): Can help with emotional wellness.
  8. Higher Consciousness (Samadhi): Can help with spiritual wellness.

Other yoga principles such as ahimsa (“do no harm”) and satya (“truthfulness”) can help improve social wellness.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) website has an informative overview of yoga. In addition to listing key points, it also lists possible health benefits, side effects, and risks.

When evaluating yoga classes, be mindful that not all classes emphasize the basic yoga principles. In spite of yoga’s holistic philosophy, many classes have popped up that focus primarily on physical benefits.  Understanding your health and wellness goals will help you decide which class makes sense for your specific needs.

Be well.

© 2014 Donna L. Hamilton, MD

Photo © Bob Stockfield
Photo Courtesy: National Center for
Complementary and Alternative Medicine

The Ultimate Health and Wellness Guide Dr. Donna Hamilton, MD has a mission to help everyone live the healthy, satisfying lives they’re meant to lead. A dynamic holistic wellness speaker, Dr. Hamilton passionately teaches what being healthy really means and how to do it in a way that fits your unique needs. Her easy, practical tips assist you with assessing the entire wellness landscape and appropriately planning your personal wellness journey. Her workbook Wellness Your Way combines evidence based counseling and coaching skills with her primary care medicine wisdom to assist readers on this journey.  For more information or to book Dr. Hamilton for speaking engagements visit www.DonnaHamiltonMD.com