By Benjamin Rookledge M.Ost (Osteopath & Martial Artist)
Both Yoga and Osteopathy aim to restore balance of the mind, body and spirit. Therefore, Osteopaths often recommend yoga to their patients to complement the affects of osteopathic treatment. In addition, those who regularly practice yoga often present to the clinic with a new onset of pain or dysfunction that they discover during their regular practice.
While Yoga has gained traction in recent times, many of our patients who are new to yoga are often unsure where to start or put off by advanced poses widely posted on social media by advanced practitioners or by people who are genetically pretty flexible to start with. It is our firm belief that yoga should be enjoyed by everyone and is suitable for every body.
Yoga (literally meaning unity) is an ancient art that aims to balance movement and self-control, with the objective of unifying mind, body and soul. While Osteopathy, is a system of diagnosis and treatment that aims to restore mental, physical and spiritual health by addressing structural dysfunctions often found within the bones, muscles and ligaments of the body. Therefore, they are perfect complements to one another.
For many people, yoga has been a useful application for its simplicity in getting the body moving. As an osteopath who regularly prescribes yoga to my patients, I believe that yoga poses are useful tools to rehab or maintain good effective posture. Furthermore, listening to a patient’s experience of practicing yoga often helps us diagnose the structural issue that a patient may be dealing with. We pay close attention to comments such as “I’ve noticed when doing this pose, I can feel…….” or “I can’t quite achieve……” or “my pain has been much reduced since I’ve been doing …”
New to Yoga?
Yoga may seem overwhelming to the new practitioner and several challenges may present. The top three issues that a newbie may experience are as follows;
• Confusion: New positions can be confusing, they can also be misinterpreted when first starting out, therefore it is important to find a professional teacher or seek advice from a manual therapist. Classes with smaller numbers can often be great for a beginner as often there will be more teacher-student interaction. Letting the teacher know that you are new is a great idea so that they can be alert to offer corrections and adjustments if need be.
• Lack of flexibility: Yoga poses can take your anatomy through a range of motion that your body may not be used to. Therefore, it may be difficult to achieve a position that your teacher is demonstrating, it is important to remember that change takes time and consistency is key to feeling the benefit. Yoga is about finding your limits and gently going beyond them in your own time. We are all born with a different set of genetics and have differing lifestyles and habits, therefore, try not to compare yourself to the teacher or to your fellow yogis.
• Pre-existing injuries: Many issues can be troublesome to overcome. However, it is not the end of the world. Yoga can be gentle and help you achieve your goals, if you have a pre-existing injury it is best to consult your teacher or to seek advice.
Ready to give yoga a go?
With the thousands of online classes popping up online, you won’t be short of choice. However, if you are unsure of where to start with your practice, or concerned about a pre-existing injury, please seek advice from a professional.
Osteopaths are here to help
Whether you are new to yoga or an advanced practitioner, Osteopaths can support you at any stage of your yoga journey. If in doubt, or if any element of your practice is causing pain or dysfunction, book in for a full assessment, where you will have a chance to discuss the issue with a member of the team. Following diagnosis, we will create a personalised treatment plan using a combination of manual therapy and corrective exercises to help you get the most out of your yoga practice and back on the road to union of body, mind and spirit.