If you’ve been in California for any length of time, you’ve probably met someone who does yoga on a regular basis. It is proclaimed as an activity for all people, of all ages, shapes, sizes, and athletic ability. Google any celebrity and they most likely adhere to a strict yoga regimen, and many claim that yoga is what keeps them in their pencil-thin shape. Yoga has been said to help with stress and depression and even to treat diabetes and cancer. But, does this hold up in practice? Or is it just another exercise craze with little scientific evidence to support it?
It’s actually a mix of both. It’s a great way to relax, lower blood pressure, and help build lean muscle. However, there is little evidence that it can cure cancer or depression, or help you lose a significant amount of weight. That is not to say that yoga is not a great addition to a healthy lifestyle; it simply is not a magical cure-all for physical and mental ailments.
In many people’s hectic lives, yoga can help with relaxation through the integration of breathing exercises into its various forms. If you talk to any serious yogi, they will say that breathing is one of the most important and worthwhile aspects of yoga. Focus on breathing not only can bring oxygen to neglected areas of the body but has been shown to increase feelings of well-being, which may lead to decreased stress levels and a better outlook in life.
However, a few aspects of yoga that must not be forgotten: it takes a lot of concentration, but it’s not a cardio workout. In yoga, you are focusing on muscles and joints that do not often get attention in our everyday lives, and many people can hurt themselves irreversibly by attempting poses that are above their skill level, or if they are not properly warmed up.
Overall, yoga is a fantastic way to improve your well-being, control your breathing, and exercise your muscles in a low-impact environment. There are countless different types of yoga as well, so it’s helpful to find the one that fits your needs and tastes. Most importantly, yoga should be done mindfully, under the supervision of an experienced practitioner, and with the knowledge that it won’t cure all ailments or pains. Relax, breathe, and enjoy the freedom of experiencing the movement of your body and the joy that it may bring.
Article by Carli Baker
Feature Image Source: Joint Ventures