To me, there has always been somewhat of a mystery surrounding yoga. Before experiencing the benefits of it myself, I saw it as something monks would do high atop a mountain, for hours on end. Who has time for that? After all, I have deadlines, chores, kids, and more!

However, according to Rachel Krentzman, PT, E-RYT, CPYI, Director of Embody Yoga Therapy (www.embodyyogatherapy.com) in San Diego, Calif., yoga is more than just a system of exercising and stretching. It is a way to calm the mind and experience sustained joy in each moment. After all, if you are considering practicing yoga to ease chronic neck and back pain (or any other types of pain resulting from overuse or injury), then to discover sustained joy must equate to a pain-free existence.

“If you are in pain, it is difficult to focus on anything else, and your mind cannot find tranquility,” Krentzman explained. “Yoga is a way to practice awareness and to connect with your own truth. That can only occur when the mind is quiet enough to allow you to listen to your own heart.”

The postures and poses used in yoga allow for the opening of the body while encouraging the mind to focus and bring awareness to each breath you take. In doing so, you can begin to sense a calmer state of being and will ultimately become more peaceful and more in touch with your true self.

Krentzman began practicing yoga to help with her own upper back pain. As a physical therapist, her long days saw her lifting heavy loads, which created constant tension between her shoulder blades and neck. She suffers from scoliosis, and the demands of her job were beginning to take their toll on her.

She then turned to yoga for relief. After practicing this ancient tradition for just a short while, her pain dissipated. She then began to use the art of yoga with her patients, and the results were nothing short of amazing.

“Since I had the knowledge of anatomy and physiology, I was able to see how each posture would benefit many different muscle groups simultaneously. I then decided to become a teacher and studied under the guidance of a wonderful master, Aadil Palkhivala in Bellevue, WA,” Krentzman said.