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Yoga and Your Health: How to Get Started

Learn how yoga may help your health and how to practice it safely.

woman sitting in the grass

Yoga, the ancient mind-body exercise developed in India, is one of the most popular complementary health practices today. It can help improve overall fitness, improve quality of life and help manage stress. It may also be beneficial for several health conditions, such as chronic lower-back pain.

Before you begin

Do some research to learn about the different types of yoga. Some are gentle and slow while others can be quite challenging. Pick one that interests you. But make sure that it fits your current physical ability and that the instructor is certified.

Yoga is generally accepted as a safe and effective mode of exercise. But you should check with your health care provider before starting a yoga practice, especially if you are pregnant, haven’t been active recently, or have one or more of these conditions:

  • Glaucoma
  • Osteoporosis
  • Balance problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Knee or hip injuries
  • Herniated disks

Practice safety

A skilled instructor will teach proper form and adjust postures to fit your abilities. Tell the instructor if you’re a beginner or if you have any medical issues.

Here are some tips for a safe yoga experience:

  • Warm up before your session.
  • Wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move easily.
  • Drink water.
  • Know your limits. Don’t try positions that go beyond your ability.

If you have pain during yoga, stop and take a break. If the pain persists, talk with your doctor.

Note: If you’re pregnant, it is usually OK to do yoga, but talk to your health care provider first. Also, if you are physically inactive or have a health condition such as arthritis, diabetes or heart disease, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program or increasing your activity level. They can help you find what types and amounts of activities are safe for you.

By John Welsh, Contributing Writer

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Yoga injury prevention. Accessed June 2, 2021.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Yoga: What You Need to Know. Accessed June 2, 2021.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Accessed June 2, 2021

Last Updated: June 4, 2021