Yoga and Pilates: It’s a Stretch

Personal Trainer Karen Nelson demonstrates the pilates machine at In-Shape Browns Valley Vacaville.

In pain? Feeling stiff and creaky? Loosen up those tight muscles and stiff joints with a warrior, tree or mountain pose. Or perhaps what you need is to assume the downward dog or seated twist.

Those are a few yoga poses, and that’s exactly the kind of exercise Angela Lim, D.O, prescribes for her patients who are in pain. Dr. Lim specializes in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) at the Center for Primary Care in Vacaville.

“Yoga is a stretching activity that can help people who have lower back pain, sciatica, pain in their hips and even upper back pain,” she says. “It can help you to become more flexible and to build your core strength.”

Some people might avoid yoga because they think they’re not flexible enough, but Dr. Lim says these are the very ones who should give it a try, because not only will it increase flexibility, but it will improve posture, strengthen muscles, boost concentration and even help to dial down stress levels.

Plus, it’s something you can try out in the comfort of your home, and the stretching exercises will only take a few minutes out of your day. “I tell my patients they don’t need to dress up in fancy clothes and go to a yoga studio. They can try out some poses by watching DVDs or videos, or looking at poses for beginners on the web.”

Joining a yoga class is the next best step, Dr. Lim says. “The instructor is right there, providing instant feedback.”

Pilates is another form of stretching exercise that also helps develop core strength and flexibility. “If you’re going to try either yoga or pilates, start out easy and work up. Don’t do so much that it takes two weeks to recover.” Before you know it, you could soon find yourself less stressed, less stiff and in less pain, thanks to those downward dogs and mountain poses.

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