Yoga is a wonderful exercise that offers some great benefits to those who follow along with its practice and lifestyle. Its benefits range from, but are not limited to: lowered stress levels, increased flexibility, anxiety relief, and improved sense of balance, but many ask the question, is yoga alone enough to keep you fit?
Often people fall on one side of the fence or another; either you need to combine it with something else, such as running or weight-training, or yoga, at its core, is all that you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Different forms of exercise are often viewed for providing a specific result to the practitioner. Running is great for cardiovascular health, weight-training allows for increasing muscle tone and as a result those who work out will often chose to follow the exercise that gives them the results they are seeking. To further understand what yoga can provide for those who practice it, we can look at whether or not it also gives similar results to that of the other popular forms of exercise.
Some key factors to consider are, does yoga allow for us to get the aerobic exercise, muscle tone, and flexibility we require to give us a complete body workout? We all know that flexibility is a large part of what yogis practice, many moves require the individuals to stretch themselves further each time they attempt a pose. Muscular fitness is also involved in this since a yogi will use his or her own body weight when holding certain poses, thus strengthening his or her muscles. But if you’ve ever doubted that a yoga flow can provide you with the necessary cardiovascular results that you require, try flowing from one pose straight into another for an hour and see where your heart rate falls, it is guaranteed to be at a higher level than it would be at the end of your session in Savasana.
As with all forms of exercise, it is the post-release of endorphins that often keeps many exercisers coming back for more. But unlike running, or weight-lifting, which focus on one factor, the variety of yoga styles and its combination of benefits over singular benefit exercises, make it a solid whole body and mind experience.
In some cases, a person is often suffering from an injury or weakness, such as weak joints or a bad heart, that prevents him or her from doing vigorous exercise. After some rest or recovery, the person is ready to try again, but is apprehensive about reinjuring him or herself. With yoga, the moves are challenging and yet gentle enough to allow for even an injured person to continue with his or her practice in some form or another. This is appealing and reassuring to many practitioners.
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One added benefit specific to yoga is its unique breathing techniques that when combined with the poses, help increase flexibility, strength, and balance, but can also improve aerobic capacity and the way the lungs function. With yoga, a program is always ended with the pose of Savasana, where the yogi takes the time to focus on breath and being still, this in turn allows for a calming of the mind, something unique to its practice.
What is wonderfully different about yoga is that there are no expectations on the mat but to try; yoga is not about being good at something, but rather being good to yourself. There is something different that happens with yoga that doesn’t always come from other exercise; that is an appreciation for what your body is, regardless of everything else, and that to many, is enough to focus solely on yoga.