Yoga is an ancient system of self improvement, mental expansion, and spiritual development. It’s about living in balance to achieve peace, good health, and harmony.
Think it’s just stretching? Stretching is surely involved, but yoga is actually about creating balance in the body through strength and flexibility, using poses or postures, each with specific physical benefits. The poses can be done quickly in sequence, creating heat, or more slowly, to increase stamina and help posture.
Yoga comes with an abundance of health benefits, and not just for the joints. Sure, it helps back pain, and osteoarthritis, but studies also show that the practice helps improve carpal tunnel syndrome, fatigue, stress and tension, sleep, heart rate, pregnancy outcomes, and epilepsy, to name a few.
Recently, researchers reported positive results for depression and anxiety, heart function, and even premature ejaculation. One 2008 study shows that yoga reduced menopause symptoms.
Yoga sessions may also include instruction on breathing, chanting, meditation, or an inspirational talk by the teacher—depending on the individual class and the yoga tradition involved. A yoga class at a gym might be more focused on the physical benefits, while a yoga center may explore the spiritual side. Each style has a different approach to posture, so there are a variety of practices to pick from.
A Perfect Match
What’s your type? Choose your personal style below to find out which yoga approaches may be right for you.
Yoga match: Hatha—What most people think of as yoga. Slow-paced, gentle poses. Good basic introduction for less athletic, more reflective types.
Type: Gym Rat
Yoga matches: Vinyasa—Synchronized breath with movement. Broad movement and
intense stretching. For a free sprit who likes an eclectic, different experience with each class.
Power—Vigorous, fitness-based, vinyasa-style. Intense, with an emphasis on strength
Bikram—Series of 26 yoga poses done in a 100° heated room. For detoxification and flexibility.
Type: Detail Oriented
Yoga match: Iyengar—Hatha-based, focusing on physical alignment of the body in the poses. Uses props to assist and to enhance alignment.
Type: Spiritual Explorer
Yoga match: Kundalini—Vigorous movement and breath with chanting meditation. For
active individuals who also seek the spiritual side.
Yoga will improve your awareness of your own body, mind, and spirit. Over time, it’s likely to boost physical comfort, health, and happiness. As a bonus, you’ll see straighter posture and experience leaps in self-confidence. Who doesn’t want to stand tall and feel well?