All the running, spinning, and weight training got your body feeling achy? Sometimes those pains, whether in the legs, knees, back or where ever, is due to tightness in muscles and tendons. Let me introduce you to Yoga!
Many people think that yoga is just stretching. But while stretching is certainly involved, yoga is really about creating balance in the body through developing both strength and flexibility. This is done through the performance of poses or postures, each of which has specific physical benefits. The poses can be done quickly in succession, creating heat in the body through movement (vinyasa-style yoga) or more slowly to increase stamina and perfect the alignment of the pose. The poses are a constant, but the approach to them varies depending on the tradition in which the teacher has trained. In addition to practicing the poses, yoga classes may also include instruction on breathing, call and response chanting, meditation, or an inspirational reading by the teacher. The variety and amount of this will depend on the individual teacher and the yoga style in which he or she is trained. Typically, a yoga class at a gym will be more focused on the purely physical benefits of yoga, while one at a yoga center may delve more into the spiritual side. Some people find that the physical practice of yoga becomes a gateway into a spiritual exploration, while others just enjoy a wonderful low-impact workout that makes them feel great. Whatever your tendency, you will be able to find a yoga class that suits your style. Doing yoga regularly offers many benefits, including making you feel better about your body as you become stronger and more flexible, toning your muscles, reducing stress, and improving your mental and physical well-being. But will it help you lose weight? Practicing any type of yoga will build strength, but studies show that yoga does not raise your heart rate enough to make it the only form of exercise you need. In order to lose weight, you must eat healthily and burn calories by doing exercise that raises your heart rate on a regular basis. Some types of yoga, such as Iyengar, in which yoga poses are held for several minutes with a resting period between each pose, will build strength, tone muscles and improve your posture, but will not give you the cardiovascular workout you need to lose weight. More vigorous yoga styles can provide a better workout, but a regular yoga practice has been shown to lower your metabolism, so if weight loss is your primary goal, you will want to combine yoga with running, walking or other aerobic exercise. That said, yoga can still help you lose weight by bringing you to a better understanding of your body, improving self image and sense of well-being, and encouraging a healthy lifestyle.
Keep in mind that if you are just starting to do yoga, are very overweight, or are quite out of shape, always choose a beginner-level class. To minimize the risk of injury, make sure find experienced teachers and listen to your body first and foremost.