Thinking of doing yoga? There are plenty of positives

For three straight years, I vowed I would "try" to make yoga a part of my weekly workout regimen, and I have failed every year, until now.

I know "how good it is for me," but I just couldn’t seem to make that mind/body connection that I hear about.

The truth is, even though I am flexible and can hold the poses pretty well, I did not have one minute of enjoyment in taking a class. In fact, forcing myself to go was not the answer, because I found myself feeling more stressed after I "wasted" an hour "relaxing," when I could have just run five miles and burned a ton of calories.

Are you one with these mindsets?

I have learned over time, that people who love yoga, love it just for the experience and focus it brings to them. Those who don’t know yoga have a difficult time understanding what is so great about it.


I was that girl, until recently. I didn’t understand that there are different styles, forms and intensities of yoga, and how they can bring relaxation, stress reduction, improve balance and flexibility. It can also help with range of motion,  with weight loss, and also to manage chronic health conditions.

Yoga was originally developed as part of an ancient Indian medicine and philosophy, and in the United States today, it is practiced by an estimated 16.5 million  (about 7.5 percent of the adult population).

Finding the type of yoga class that is right for you is important. From the slow and gentle movements of Hatha and Restorative yoga, flowing movements of Vinyasa, physically demanding power movements of Ashtanga, and the added heat and humidity of Bikram yoga, and many others, there is definitely something for everyone.

All will include yoga poses and breathing techniques, which is basically a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility. These can range from lying on the floor while completely relaxed, to difficult postures that challenge balance and stretch your physical limits.

Breathing is an important part of yoga practice, which signifies energy and also can help you control your body and quiet your mind. Every breath and movement work together synergistically to produce the desired result.

New research conducted at Ohio State University suggests that some types of yoga may lower an inflammatory protein that is normally linked to aging and stress, which provides substantial short- and long-term health benefits. We know that inflammation plays a major role in the development of many diseases, and yoga may be a simple and enjoyable tool to stay healthy far beyond today.

In the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, veterans with chronic low-back pain who took part in at least eight weekly yoga classes, reported a significant reduction in pain. They also reported improvements in mood, energy and quality of life.

The more classes they attended, the greater the gains. Data was based on survey feedback from 33 men and women, average age 55, who had back pain for at least six months before starting yoga.


Research done at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse supports all these benefits, but also advises exercisers to assess their fitness goals and make sure that yoga can meet those personal goals, especially if you are looking to lose weight, build significant strength, or get a good cardiovascular workout.

Yoga is not an all-encompassing workout, but rather an excellent addition to any fitness routine, particularly because it targets those aspects of fitness that are most often skipped, such as flexibility, balance and relaxation.

I now look forward to my weekly meeting with the mat. I know that I am doing my body a favor with my yoga "cross-training" and I don’t worry how many calories I am burning.

I can’t do crazy headstands like some people in class, but that could be a new goal.

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