Whether you’re interested in improving muscle tone, increasing mobility or reducing anxiety, yoga may be able to help you achieve these goals. Yoga can be taught in group classes or during individual sessions with a personal trainer. If you are eligible for Medicaid, you may wonder if your coverage will help pay for yoga classes. Let’s discuss the benefits of practicing yoga, and if you can get help paying for your classes.

Benefits and Risks of Yoga 

The National Institute of Health describes yoga as a style of exercise developed from ancient Indian philosophies about personal strength and inner balance. In modern teachings, these benefits are often attributed to the overall holistic effect that the physical activity and mindfulness associated with yoga has on a person’s sense of wellbeing.

Although the benefits found with practicing yoga may not apply to every individual, studies suggest that a broad range of health factors can be positively impacted by regular sessions.

  • Mood management. Meditation associated with yoga classes has been shown to have a positive impact on a person’s ability to manage stress and their emotional resilience.
  • Sleep regulation. Although many yoga styles are considered low impact, the exercise they provide can still help reset the body’s cycle and improve a person’s quality of sleep. Meditation lessons learned while in yoga class can also be applied to relaxation techniques that make falling and staying asleep easier.
  • Strength increase. Through balance and body weight exercises, muscle tone and strength can be increased with yoga’s series of postures and breathing practices.
  • Symptom relief. Yoga is often recommended for patients who experience symptoms associated with lower back and neck pain, chronic headaches or migraines or certain autoimmune disorders that cause inflammation and joint pain.

The risks associated with yoga are limited, but it’s important to discuss the potential benefits and risks with your primary care physician before you begin taking classes or practicing yoga on your own. Muscle sprains or strains are the most common type of injury with yoga. You should avoid trying difficult poses or practicing without guidance if you are new to yoga.

People with certain preexisting health conditions may need to attend modified yoga classes that take their needs into special consideration. Anyone with a heart condition or who may be sensitive to heated environments should avoid “hot yoga,” also known as bikram yoga, classes since these are taught in rooms where the temperature is increased to promote sweating while exercising.

Common Components of Yoga 

With few exceptions, almost every style of yoga exercise integrates three basic components:

  • Postures (asanas). Also known as poses, the series of physical movements involved in each class is dictated by which style of yoga is being taught. Certain styles of yoga may change the pose order from class to class, while others rely on a very strict adherence to a series of postures.
  • Breathing (pranayama). Breathing techniques can play a major role in most yoga classes. A portion of the class may be spent focusing on how to breathe deeply as well as breathing in time with each pose.
  • Meditating (dyana). While the act of mediating may not be a specific part of some yoga classes, it is a component of the most popular forms of yoga. It may be a separate part of the lesson or it may be taught while moving through each pose.

Medicaid Coverage for Yoga 

Because yoga is considered a complementary or alternative form of therapy, it is unlikely that Medicaid will provide coverage for yoga classes. Recipients may be able to seek reimbursement for classes if their state has approved yoga as a treatment for pain management or behavioral health needs. Coverage may apply to yoga classes that are part of the services received during in-patient stays at behavioral health facilities. These policies can differ from one Medicaid provider to another, which means you will need to consult with your provider to verify your options.

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