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Yoga and Chiropractic

Dr. Jared Thomas, chiropractor, practicing yoga at Yoga Reclaimed. Thomas Chiropractic

Yoga & Chiropractic

One of the more common questions I get in my chiropractic practice is, “How do I hold an adjustment?” What they mean is what can they do to make it so that they don’t feel like they need an adjustment every day or two. They want to know how they can maintain good joint movement, proper muscle function, and decreased pain. The answer is to stabilize the spine by training the joints and the muscles to work in harmony. Chiropractic is great at moving the joints and relaxing muscles but you have to challenge muscles to get them to respond correctly. One of the absolute best ways to do that is yoga.

I have had my fair share of issues with spine and extremity joint pain and dysfunction. Chiropractic adjustments have obviously made a huge difference in my ability to manage my conditions. Having taught spinal stabilization exercises my whole career and applying them to myself, when I am consistent in doing them they make a big difference. Stretching my leg muscles regularly helps, as well. However, I have seen the greatest success by practicing yoga over the past few years. I have been practicing Ashtanga Yoga with some good friends in Auburn at Yoga Reclaimed. They will attest to the fact that when I started it was ugly. My flexibility was so bad I couldn’t even touch my toes without bending my knees. However, I have stuck with it. I practice at least once a week and try to practice twice a week. My schedule doesn’t allow for more. I have slowly improved and learned a lot along the way. 

The first thing about yoga everyone should know is that it is not a competition. There will always be someone more flexible, someone who has better balance, and someone who has better stamina. The challenge is internal. It is good to push yourself but it is counterproductive to injure yourself by trying to do more than your body can handle. Second, consistency will make a much bigger difference than going all out. Muscles and tendons take time to stretch. Joints learn with regular stimulation. Nerves respond with frequent feedback. Third, pain is not gain. Gain is gain and pain is usually an indication that something is wrong. When pushing yourself go up to but not into pain. 

There are so many aspects of yoga that are beneficial even beyond elongating shortened muscles and increasing joint flexibility. Yoga helps improve balance physically and emotionally. It teaches you how to breathe. It helps you manage stress and cortisol levels. It increases your strength, improves posture, and improves endurance. There are various styles of yoga. I believe all are beneficial but you might find one better for you. I have enjoyed practicing in a group and enjoy going through the Ashtanga series alone or one on one with an instructor. Whatever you decide to do, give yourself time to work into it. Push yourself a little each time but don’t get caught up focusing too much on flexibility. You can benefit from yoga even if you are terribly inflexible, as I was/am. The key is to just make it a regular practice and strive for improvement. In doing so, it will help you hold your chiropractic adjustment. On that same note, getting adjusted will significantly help you practice yoga. They are a great combination! 

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