Yoga is a form of exercise that concentrates on breathing and relaxation while toning muscles. The Sanskrit word yoga literally means yoke or union. It sig…
Yoga is a form of exercise that concentrates on breathing and relaxation while toning muscles. The Sanskrit word yoga literally means yoke or union. It signifies the path to discovery and union with the soul. The yoga most Westerners practice involves a series of physical postures or asanas that strengthen and tone the body while also providing mental benefits. People practice yoga for many reasons, all of which are significant if they improve quality of life. Yoga poses can be modified to accommodate people of various fitness levels and people with various medical conditions. Exercise novices should always consult a health care provider prior to starting any new form of exercise.
Types There are several different types of yoga. Three of the most common types are Hatha, Bikram and power yoga. The poses in Hatha yoga are performed slowly which makes it the preferred type of yoga for most beginners. Bikram, or hot yoga, is a more advanced form of yoga. According to Bikram’s Yoga College of India, Bikram yoga consists of a 26-pose sequence. The poses are practiced in a room where the temperature is set at 105 degrees F. Finally, power yoga is a more modern type of yoga. The poses are typically similar to Hatha yoga, but performed at a faster pace to provide a more intense cardiovascular workout.
Benefits Documented medical benefit of all yoga postures include increased strength, relief of stress and anxiety, and lowered blood pressure. But each type of pose has unique benefits. Standing postures develop power and stability in the lower body and aid in digestion, circulation, mobility, balance, posture, and mental focus. Balancing postures develop poise, concentration, coordination, and control over your body. Inverted postures reverse the effects of gravity; stimulate the brain, organs and glands; and improve digestion and elimination. Back-bending postures keep the spine supple and release emotional energy. Twisting postures detoxify the glands and organs and improve circulation to the spine. Forward-bending postures soothe the nervous system and increase circulation. Seated and relaxation/reclining postures reduce fatigue, soothe the nervous system, aid in digestion and elimination, and bring focus to the mind.
Conditions According to Yoga Journal, certain yoga poses are designed to alleviate pain in certain areas of the body. For example, anyone experiencing lower back pain would benefit from poses such as chair, dolphin, cat, cow or downward dog. Meanwhile, anyone with hip pain would benefit from eagle, triangle or bound angle pose. Consult a certified yoga instructor to find poses that benefit individual discomforts.