Yoga is another form of calisthenic exercise that provides many health benefits for people of all ages and is a great exercise alternative promoting relaxation, strength, flexibility, and balance. Yoga originated from India and is gaining more attention everyday in the Western world.
There are many forms of Yoga for those looking to participate:
- Hatha Yoga (soft and gentle)
- Ashtanga (fast paced and intense)
- Power Yoga (more physically demanding)
- Bikram (“hot” yoga – exercises are performed in high temperatures, typically 100+ degrees)
- Kundalini (focused on breathing)
- Integral (gentle)
- Kripalu (similar to Hatha yoga, gentle exercises and meditation)
- Viniyoga (healing, therapeutic, and rehabilitation yoga)
- Iyengar (focused on posture and alignment of the body)
- Vinyasa (another form of physically demanding yoga)
The poses in Yoga are called “asanas” and are similar to isometric exercises. There may be many more forms of yoga than shown above, but do not be overwhelmed – as a general rule start with “gentle” Yoga and begin working towards more physically demanding type Yoga. Either way, they are all beneficial for your mind, body, and spirit.
What are some of the Benefits of Yoga?
Physical benefits of the “asanas” include:
- Strengthening of legs, arms, and core body
- Improves joint motion
- Improves stamina and endurance (for types of “power” yoga)
- Relieves joint and muscle aches and pains
- Stimulates your immune system
- Great for cardiovascular (heart) health
- Improves blood flow and circulation to muscles throughout your body
- Promotes stronger bones (great for those with osteoporosis)
- Improves posture
Psychological benefits of yoga include:
- Reduction of anxiety and stress and depression
- Improves mood and concentration
- Improves balance and coordination
There are many other benefits that many yoga practitioners would love to tell you about, join a a class and find out for yourself! You never know if you’ll like something until you try it!
Practicing the postures, breathing exercises, and meditation of Yoga makes you healthier overall in in body, mind, and spirit. There are also many people who practice Yoga for “enlightenment” so if you’re planning to attend yoga classes for the physical benefits you should also respect people who are there for the psychological benefits. Everyone is there for the same reasons – to be healthy!
Although most books, videos and websites focus on yoga postures “asanas,” breathing, meditation, and other techniques, the tradition of Yoga also emphasizes compassion, knowledge, right action, and beneficial other values. Yoga helps us gain control of ourselves and our minds and bodies. It is a serious activity for many people and if you take part in it you’ll know what all the buzz about Yoga is about!
Participating in Yoga does burn calories, but not at the same level of running or walking. Yoga is definitely not for the feint of heart either! It’s harder than you think!