Yoga is gaining a new reputation in fitness. Gone are the days when most associated it with chanting, dark lighting and incense. This stereotype may have kept many from trying an excellent form of exercise. Of course, there are benefits to practicing any form of exercise in a comfortable environment with soothing music, which is often the atmosphere of a yoga class. When you take away this “aura” that often has defined yoga, you get a form of exercise that is little or no-impact (unless you do power yoga), increases flexibility and strength, eases joint pain, improves balance and helps you manage stress. Everyone could use more of that! But yoga is especially helpful to those new to fitness, recovery from injury and those with arthritis. There are over 100 types of arthritis, most of them defined by inflammation and pain in the joints, tissues or organs. Practicing yoga regularly can ease those aches and pains and equip you to keep moving. Yoga may also help improve your balance which can lessen your likelihood of having a fall resulting in injury.Yoga involves slow, precise movements to help align your body and improve strength and flexibility. A good instructor will also teach you breathing techniques to combine with your movements. This can help you relax into poses and ultimately increase your mobility. Yoga will help you gain a better awareness of your body as you “listen” to how your body responds throughout a class. It is a non-competitive activity and you should never feel pain or dizziness when practicing. If you do, you should stop right away. In a typical class you may be instructed to adjust yourself if you need to or stop any pose that causes discomfort. You will want to challenge yourself and may feel some stretching of your muscles or joints, this should not be painful, but rather a gentle stretching of your body.Most yoga classes involve elements of balance. Balance is affected by our physical and emotion states. If your body is experiencing pain and inflammation, this will be reflected in your ability to balance. It may limit you physically. Ankle joints, for example, will not give you a steady foundation if the joints are stiff and in pain. Yoga poses can help loosen up some of those joints and help improve your balance. If you mind is preoccupied with pain and discomfort, this will affect your balance as well. When you practice a yoga session, balance poses will help you to concentrate on bringing your body in alignment, tuning out distractions and focusing on what your body is doing. The more you practice yoga, the better your balance may become. It is best to practice some poses every day to keep your body growing more balanced.As you are stretching and moving you are helping your body create new “muscle memory”. Before practicing yoga, you may have had limitations in balance, strength and mobility. These limitations will become less apparent the more you practice yoga. It is especially helpful to practice some stretching several times a week, ideally once a day. The gentle movements and slower pace of yoga is gentle on the bones and joints. The movements alone can help improve range of motion through your joints. Increased movement equals increase circulation to your muscles and joints, and this may help ease discomfort from lack of movement. You’ve probably heard the old adage “use it or lose it” and this is so true of our bodies. A person that does not use their muscles and joints due to lack of motivation or from the pain of arthritis will continue to stiffen up – pain may increase and mobility may decrease. This begins a cycle of pain and lack of movement, leading to the intake of more medications to ease the pain. Medications can take away pain, but they will never be a replacement for the gentle stretching and movements that yoga can offer. You’ll get the best results if you practice some stretching every day. Having some yoga DVDs at home will make it convenient and economical to do some exercise a little each day on your time.There are many types of yoga and many DVDs teaching yoga, making it convenient for you to practice yoga in your home right away and on a regular basis. Most yoga DVDs are priced the same as taking one class at a yoga studio. There is significant variation in the style and focus of yoga videos, so it is important to select one that fits your needs and compliments any group yoga classes you may already attend. Talk to friends, your yoga instructor or consult web site reviews for guidance on making the right selection.