By: Debbie hall

For a healthier body and spirit, Silver State Orthopedics lead surgeon David Silverberg recommends yoga. Stress on joints lead to injury as Dr. Silverberg knows from his practice. Dr. Silverberg said he recently began practicing yoga and has seen instant benefits.

“My flexibility is improved,” said Dr. Silverberg, a shoulder and elbow specialist. “And as an orthopedic surgeon I know all too well the consequences of tight joints.” Joints are happiest, Silverberg said, when they move freely and achieve their full natural range of motion. Stiff, tight joints can get painful and disrupt the body’s natural motion and harmony. Unlike some sports, which call for stop-on-a-dime direction changes that can stress and damage joints, yoga allows for slow entry and exit from poses.

Using yoga for fitness is hardly a trend; it’s been practiced for decades. Volumes of books have been written on the practice; Claire Dederer had a best-seller writing a memoir on the topic, “Poser: My Life in 23 Poses.” Yoga continues to add converts, like Dr. Silverberg.

Ronna Timpa, founder of Workplace ESL Solutions, has received huge benefits from yoga.

“I played soccer from high school till age 40. Then I played tennis till 44. I got hurt and needed big knee surgery, a bone transplant because there was a two-centimeter hole in my knee from the wear and tear over 30 years of sports. I couldn’t play soccer or tennis and it hurt to walk. So I tried yoga. I couldn’t even straighten my leg at first, but I felt safe in the yoga room. I’ve been doing it for a year and a half years now and I get a great workout without the risk of injury. For me, I need yoga to calm my mind and work my muscles and cardiovascular system,” she said.

For a feeling of ease, some people have gravitated toward hot yoga, performed in rooms heated to 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 percent humidity. In a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, John Porcari, head of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s exercise and sport science department, said, “I think some people are attracted to hot yoga because it’s easier to go through a greater range of motion when your muscles are warmer.”

According to yogaaccessories.com, heat may help boost the immune system as the resulting sweat cleanses the skin. Hot yoga may also encourage people to continue with workouts longer. Stephanie Dixon of Summerlin Yoga said all types of yoga have been proven to reduce the risk of injury and help people who have suffered injuries to ease back into an active lifestyle.

“Whether you are a beginner or more advanced, you can restore your body, mind, and spirit,” said Dixon, who recently converted her studio from a Bikram format to offer additional class options for students. “I once had a serious back injury and was supposed to have surgery and through yoga I was able to heal my spine,” she said. As yoga benefits the body, it also helps mindfulness, Silverberg suggests. As yoga practitioners focus on positioning their hands and feet, they also focus on breathing.

Dixon also explained that it is not about doing the postures perfectly. As long as participants give their best effort and attempt all of the postures correctly, those practicing yoga will receive the same therapeutic benefits as someone who is able to do a posture with a high degree of flexibility, balance and strength.

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