Ah, yoga. You have those who fanatically practice a few times every day. You have those who take a class with some regularity. You also have those who look at those who take it as “weird.” Perhaps this final group should take stock. Yoga is good for you—not just as a form of exercise but also as means of improving your overall health.
Yoga is not a one-size-fits-all form of exercise/meditation. It is an exercise that has a variety of types. They are suitable to those of different ages and flexibility. Among the more popular kind or styles are:
Anusura Yoga – Founded in 1997 by John Friend, this version of Hatha Yoga has become extremely popular.
Hatha Yoga – Generally called just yoga in the West, this was first popularized in the second half of the 20th century. It is considered an excellent source of stress relief and relaxation.
Prenatal Yoga – Yoga is a very low impact form of exercise and provides an excellent source of stress relief, but during pregnancy care must be taken to practice the correct forms or there is significant risk of injury. Prenatal Yoga is a special subset of exercises that are suitable for pregnant women.
Power Yoga – Power Yoga does not follow a set series of poses, but is rather focused more on strength and flexibility. It has gained great popularity in the gyms of America in recent years.
Hot (Bikram) Yoga – A form of yoga where the exercises are conducted in a heated room.
Yoga is a form of exercise, but it also works on the connection between your mind and your body. It is a discipline that acknowledges the existence of a close relationship between the mental and the physical attributes of individuals. As such, it works within and without to achieve an inner tranquility. This allows you to relax. When you relax, you are better able to manage such things as anxiety and stress.
While yoga is part of a philosophy that integrates what you eat and do with how you focus, it can be treated as a form of exercise without the philosophy or diet. This can still result in various health benefits—both physically and emotionally.
What are the Health Benefits of Yoga?
According to recent research at the University of Kansas Hospital, performing yoga with regularity can cut in half the number of episodes of atrial fibrillation or irregular heartbeat. The relaxed breathing that accompanies Yoga acts to help stabilize the heart rate. This decreases the amount of fluctuation. As a result, yoga reduces two factors in heart problems: anxiety, stress and depression. It may also be a factor in decreasing inflammation, another contributor to unusual heart rhythms.
Other research into the relationship between Yoga and physical or mental problems has reached some interesting conclusions:
Taking part in yoga classes or exercises may help ease the painful symptoms accompanying Fibromyalgia including chronic pain, fatigue anxiety and discomfort. Research at York University in Toronto, Ontario, found that if sufferers took yoga only twice a week for 75 minutes, it helped improve their quality of life. Participants felt more relaxed and less helpless.
Yoga has also been studied in regard to cancer care. A couple of studies in 2008 and 2009 in particular noted the positive effects that yoga had on cancer patients. The 2009 work published in the May issue of Psycho-Oncology found yoga to be an effective form of complementary medicine for those who had cancer.
Yoga can actually help decrease your blood pressure, reduce tension, relax you and relax your muscles.
While yoga may not appeal to everyone, it is an excellent form of physical and emotional exercise. Its mind-body connection helps in a number of ways to help keep you in physical shape while improving your mental and physical health. Yoga, whether you exercise or combine it with other aspects such as meditation, is one positive way to help you live a healthy life.