Practicing Yoga in addition to getting regular chiropractic care stimulates a healthy mind-body connection.

The practice of yoga dates back thousands of years. What makes yoga such a healthy time-tested form of exercise?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well, it does date back thousands of years and yoga is very much different than the common perception. If you ask 9 out of 10 people on the street what yoga is, most of them are going to tell you it’s like a form of exercise and stretching that might help in relaxation. What I love about yoga (and it does have something common in chiropractic) is that it really talks about the mind-body connection. We’ve all heard these stories about yogis who’ve been able to slow down their heart or speed up their heart rate just by thinking about it. Using the mind to control the body and in yoga, you’re constantly working on establishing these pathways or what I call programming the software. As a chiropractor, my job is to make sure that the hardware is working so we make sure that there’s no pressure on these nerves and that the openings where these nerves come out are completely patent and free from interference so that the communication can happen.

While I work on the hardware, yoga is truly working on programming the software and giving you more control over your body. It goes hand-in-hand with chiropractic but it’s not necessarily one or the other and people come and tell me, “Hey, I’m doing yoga now so I don’t need to come in to see the chiropractor anymore.” That’s simply not true, because yoga doesn’t correct the inter-segmental misalignment that chiropractic does. Although there’s a lot of commonality, chiropractic generally focusing on the hardware, yoga working on programming the software. It’s truly time tested because it’s been around so long. Anytime you encourage people to move and work on that mind-body connection, they’re going to be more grounded, better connected and they’re going to function better and generally just be healthier.

How does yoga correlate with chiropractic care?

 Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Yeah, it’s interesting, it correlates well in that it’s something that is good for you and that it’s beneficial and something you probably should do for your entire lifetime –  but they really do very different things. Like I said, yoga is focused on the software and programming it and working with the physical body while I work on the hardware. Correcting the spinal segments alignments so there’s no interference or pressure on those pathways. Because if there’s static in the line and you try and work those pathways or send messages across a static-y line, they’re going to get through and that’s going to cause breakdown in the body. Again, when the mind is not communicating effectively with the body, the body is not going to be as efficient at healing and running and regulating itself and that’s when the body starts to break down.

It correlates as that it’s something else that is good to do but they’re two completely different things for your health. I think they are completely separate and distinct but when you’re doing both together can really have a nice synergistic effect.

Can yoga help reduce pain in some patients?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Absolutely! Look, when people exercise and after you exercise, don’t you feel better about yourself? Absolutely, right? After any type of exercise in create movement and stimulate the body, you’re going to have that increased sense of well-being and it will certainly reduce pain, especially pain associated with tight muscles and things like that. It’s a form of exercise and stretchingand when you stretch tight muscles, they loosen up, they relax more and it just brings the whole patient or the whole person, down to a lower resting tone. Again, people tend to forget that pain is an emotional state and people who are highly emotional or excited are going to perceive pain as being much more severe. The more relaxed you are, the less intense the perception of the pain can be and stretching and moving will swirl up synovial fluid, keep the joints healthy, and prevent further degeneration and other painful syndromes from actually coming on. It’s absolutely a great way to stay fit and help reduce pain in a lot of different people.

What are the different types of yoga classes people can take?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: You know, that’s a really good question, I know there are tons of different types, and some of them are more focused on the heady things, and the mind-body connection. Some of them are more physical, some of them are based on more flexibility, some of them are done in hot environments, some of them are done in a regular room temperature environment. There’s different philosophies behind different types of yoga and I want to admit freely that I’m not a yoga expert and that I’m not really the most qualified to speak on these different things but I know there are many different types and they all have a little bit of a different focus. What I recommend to people is just find the type that resonates the most with you. Try a couple of different types of yoga classes. See what you get the most enjoyment out of and what resonates the most with you and your body and then you can figure it out from there. It’s not cut and dry, there’s no one type of yoga that’s going to be better for person A versus person B. It’s really about what’s compelling to you, what aspects about that yoga practice you enjoy and then incorporating it into your lifestyle.

Can doing yoga on a regular basis help you lose weight?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Absolutely, Liz, any exercise can help you lose weight as long as you do it consistently. It’s really just a matter of motion, because in yoga you can build flexibility but you can also build strength. If you build strength, you increase muscle mass and the more muscle mass you have, they more active tissue, the more calories you burn just at rest. Everyone has a basal metabolic rate, their BMR, and the more muscle you have, the higher that BMR is, the more calories you’re going to burn when you’re inactive and then even be more efficient when you are active. Pretty much any exercise is going to help you lose weight. Anything that will help put on more muscle mass will help you lose weight and lead an active, healthy life. That’s really what we want. Any type of exercise is good but some people just love yoga because it’s low stress, it doesn’t really damage the joints, it’s safe, and it’s a lot of fun. If you really get into it, just like any form of exercise, you’re going to be healthier, stronger, and absolutely lose weight and increase your muscle mass and decrease the body fat percentage. That’s really what it’s all about, any type of exercise, so it’s just how you apply yoga.

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