Stephen Newman, M.D., a family practice physician at the NorthBay Center for Primary Care in Vacaville, started taking yoga classes more than three years ago after he realized yoga’s stretching and balancing movements were providing many positive physical benefits for his family members.
Those benefits—improved balance, greater flexibility and increased strength—have since helped him avoid some of the injuries he had been experiencing while jogging or working out at the gym. “I was getting strains and pulled muscles, probably because I wasn’t stretching enough and taking care of myself.”
The results weren’t immediate, Dr. Newman admits. “It took a few months. It’s slow, and the changes are subtle. It takes some time to learn the poses, and to make the connection between the movements and how it ties in with your breathing.”
But he now enjoys those healthy benefits, and maintains them by joining yoga classes at least two times a week.
Yoga has also helped Dr. Newman in his work with patients. “I understand better how injuries occur; having balance issues puts you at high risk for fall.”
Although it’s possible to learn yoga from reading books or watching a DVD, Dr. Newman prefers taking classes because an instructor is right there to correct improper positioning.
Considering taking up yoga? Dr. Newman recommends taking a couple of classes a week, and adding in a bit of patience with the practice. “Give it at least four months before you decide if you like it or not.”