Yoga can be a hard practice to begin and find interest in because many people view it as too slow, boring and lack patience for the practice. It's often thought of as a light workout and many people would rather be working up a big sweat or lifting heavy weights. There are many different forms of yoga however, and most offer a substantial workout.
Despite what many people think, yoga is a challenging workout and can provide excellent physical results. Holding deep yoga poses requires maximum muscle effort and builds strength. Yoga is now expanding to include repetitions of yoga moves and fast paced yoga sequences to create an elevated heart rate and provide a cardiovascular effect. It is possible to burn hundreds of calories in an intense yoga session, often found in gym classes called Power Yoga, or in aggressive at home yoga DVDs.
The beauty of yoga is that it can be tailored to your workout needs for the specific workout. While you can aggresively move through poses and hold poses for an intense workout, you can also move gently through the poses, focusing on flexibility and alignment. You can also tailor each pose and movement to your strength, flexibility and overall fitness level.
Why attempt to pick up yoga? For it's many health benefits. Flexibility is a key component of yoga training. Yoga stretches your muscles and all of the soft tissues of your body. By safely stretching the muscles, you are releasing the lactic acid that builds up with muscle use and causes stiffness, tension, pain, and fatigue. In addition, yoga increases the range of motion in joints.
Yoga also builds strength and improves muscle tone. By practicing a large variety of poses, you will work virtually every muscle in your body. And when done correctly, almost every pose will challenge and strengthen your core. By strengthening your core, you will also notice improved posture. Yoga focuses on the breath and this will improve lung capacity. Improved lung capacity will benefit you in your other workouts, including sports performance and endurance. Yoga is also known to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk for heart disease, lower cholesterol and boost the immune system. The practice of yoga can also bring relief to symptoms of chronic medical conditions such as ashma, back pain and arthritis. Yoga massages all of the organs in the body which is shown to provide optimum blood supply throughout the body and improves the release and flushing out of toxins.
The benefits of yoga stretch beyond the physical (no pun intended). Yoga is a great stress reliever, mood booster and relaxer. Since yoga emphasizes long and deep breaths, the relaxation response is stimulated. Yoga also induces biochemical responses such as a decrease in catecholamines, the hormones produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress and lowering levels of the hormone neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine creating a feeling of calm. Yoga has also been shown to provide a boost in the hormone oxytocin. There are even studies that suggest that yoga may have a positive effect on learning and memory.
Try out a yoga DVD at home to feel more comfortable beginning your practice. Here are two recommended at home yoga workouts:
Or head to the gym and try out a yoga class. For a more intense workout, look for classes such as Power Yoga. For less intense, look for a class like Hatha.