I’ve had several patients ask me for my opinion on taking Yoga.
While I won’t claim to be an expert, I do think it’s great. Almost anything that gets you moving around and active is a positive in my book. Can yoga replace Structural correction chiropractic? Not in my opinion. But it goes both ways. Structural correction care cannot replace yoga either. They are both separate and unique. However, the do compliment each other quite well and I think it’s great for patients to consider as a means of staying active an improving both their mental and physical health.
Here are a few more things to consider:
1. In yoga it’s less about the destination, and more about the journey. I realize the poses are not the ultimate goal of a yogi. However, it’s important to keep in mind that doing these things incorrectly could lead to structural conditions or worsen existing ones. Have you ever noticed that during a certain pose it’s different on the right versus the left? Have you seemed to reach a certain plateau and you’re having trouble taking the next step in your journey? If this is the case, there is a possibility a structural condition might be playing a part. This is something traditional chiropractic care may not be able to help.
2. Motion is always a great thing. When I evaluate patients on our state of the art video x-ray system (see example below), we look for Vertebral Locking. Essentially this means a vertebra is “locked” and not moving properly, contributing to the structural condition. Our goal, through structural corrective care, is to “unlock” these areas and show the before and after difference on the video x-ray. This is why yoga compliments structural corrective care so well. Again, I realize yoga is not simply about flexibility, but it does play a part. Anything that helps get motion back into the spine (in a normal way), is going to be something that compliments structural care very well. Yoga does this.
3. Could yoga cause or exacerbate structural conditions? Absolutely, if not done properly. I recently had a conversation with a yoga instructor and she stressed the importance of doing things properly. She expressed her desire to instill in her students this exact point. It’s common for students and teachers alike to experience severe SI joint problems from improper poses by creating a shearing action in the joint when done improperly. This can even occur with no pain. There can also be a problem with many of the twisting motions when not done with a proper foundation.
4. Building upon number 3, do you constantly feel the need to twist, crack, pop, your spine or get into certain poses? This could be a sign of a major underlying structural condition. When you feel this need, you’re essentially “stimulating” the brain to turn off the pain receptors. But this only lasts for a brief time before you feel the need to do it again. You see, the pain receptors in the brain have an “override” of sorts. When you twist, crack, pop, or stretch your spine in certain ways, it’s like hitting the “override” button to the pain receptors in the brain. They are shut off for a brief time. But you’ll soon feel the need to do it again because it’s only temporary. The is finding out why this is happening.
In essence, structural corrective care and yoga are both unique and cannot replace each other. But yoga is definitely something I’d recommend to patients when they ask my opinion. It compliments structural corrective care well by keeping you active and adding motion to the spine.