Specific Health Issues
1. Should pregnant women practice yoga?
Yes. Yoga is the best preparation for labour. If you are already experienced in yoga then you can attend the open classes – though please inform the instructor before it starts because some postures are not recommended for pregnant women. If you are new to yoga or would like to work specifically with your pregnancy journey we highly recommend Natal Yoga which is suitable (and fun!) for all stages of pregnancy – right up to the final week. Natal Yoga includes gentle practices that greatly assist with all stages of pregnancy, including birthing. The class also provides women with valuable support and knowledge. If you are interested in private tuition for Natal Yoga, then please inquire.
Read this story of a woman who practiced yoga through her pregnancy.
2. Will yoga help me lose weight?
Yes, yoga in addition to healthy eating can help you maintain your natural body weight.
There are many factors that contribute to weight gain: poor digestion, clogged intestines, sluggish organs, emotional eating and not listening to your body. Yoga can help with all these factors.
There are many postures that rejuvenate the digestive system, while others target other systems such as the immune and lymphatic systems. People are often surprised at how effective postures are at normalising their body’s functions.
Yoga also treats the imbalances that lead to weight gain with breathing techniques (pranayama), guided relaxation (yoga nidra) and meditation. The connection between breathing and weight may not be immediately obvious, but in yogic thought the breath is said to be one of the main sources of prana (vital energy) and essential to proper nourishment and good health.
Also, the purpose of yoga is not weight loss, but rather restoring the natural functioning of mind and body – weight loss is the natural consequence.
3. I have back pain. Should I avoid yoga?
Yoga is very beneficial for preventing and relieving back (and neck) pain. If you have back pain, then there are many exercises that can help. Learning to relax your muscles and stretch can go a long way towards healing your back.
We often start with fingers and toes and slowly work towards freeing up the movement of the whole body. The approach is gentle and systematic.
Guided relaxation (yoga nidra), breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation can also help manage pain and address any psychosomatic factors such as stress that may be contributing to it.
There are many, many people whose backs have benefited from yoga. Read Savitridevi’s story about how she started at Ashram Yoga wearing a back brace and is now a successful yoga teacher.
NB: We ask that you inform the teacher before a class about any conditions you may have so they can assist during the class with beneficial modifications, etc.
4. Can yoga help with asthma?
Yoga excels at improving breathing. There are many techniques in yoga that open the chest and train you to breathe in a deep and rhythmic way. Proper breathing is very rewarding and is highly beneficial for the mind and body.
There are other techniques that help combat asthma in an indirect way. Read Roselle’s story about how yoga freed her from life-long asthma.
5. Does yoga help with stress?
Yoga is widely recognised as a great antidote to the stresses of modern life. At Ashram Yoga we pay particular attention to relaxation. All of our classes finish with either guided relaxation or meditation – both are very effective methods for releasing tension.
Guided relaxation (yoga nidra) is particularly powerful, especially for beginners. It is designed to relax even those who think they cannot relax. It quickly takes people to a deep level of relaxation and is a great way to overcome insomnia, anxiety and similar conditions. See the Yoga Nidra Shop for downloads.
Yoga postures and breath awareness are also very effective at stress reduction. They release accumulated tension which is often held in the body and re-trains the body so it remains relaxed.
6. Does yoga help with depression?
Yoga has a very positive effect on mental health. Yoga practice helps:
Mental health, including depression, can be very complex. Fortunately, the entire ancient system of yoga is aimed at establishing harmony of mind, body and spirit.
Yoga is a sophisticated approach to well-being that is grounded in simple wisdom: physical exercise, deep breathing, wholesome food, sunlight and proper rest. Yoga considers these basic elements to be the essential foundation for a happy and healthy life.
Guided relaxation (yoga nidra) and meditation are also very powerful tools for releasing mental and emotional blockages. See the Yoga Nidra Shop for downloads.