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Yoga has been in popular demand in North America over the last 15 years. From virtually no knowlege of it and its benefits to yoga studios in every town. Yoga has gain popularity by being a holistic, simple, good for everybody physical activity.
With its supporters also come the critics; is yoga strenuous enough to be considered adequate physical activity? Does yoga fit in as with resistance training or cardiovascular training?
Understanding both the pros and cons, advantages and drawbacks of yoga can help to answer these questions.
Yoga's original design
Yoga's purpose was never to help people lose weight so they could look like models or movie starts. If this is your intention, yoga may not be the sole option for you. Yoga was intended to enhance and align the spirit with ones physical self.
Yoga focuses a lot on the spiritual chakrahs, or energy centers of the body, and aims to connect and bring peace to the physical body.
Yoga was developed over thousands of years and continues to evolve. Today, westerners have chosen to separate and categorize yoga poses to make sense of them all from a western perspective. For example, kundalini is used for meditative purposes while “power” yoga is described as the resistance training of yoga. All of these branches of yoga come together to achieve essentially the same goal: better spiritual and physical health.
Known Advantages of yoga
For many people, exercise is more than about just one goal they have in mind. Typically, there is one catalyst which keeps people coming back to exercise, supported by several other, smaller reasons which they know are important as well. For example, weightloss is often a primary reason to get active, but most people also want to reduce blood pressure, reduce health risks, and improve energy. Fortunately, yoga is one of those activities which can help with diverse goals.
These are some of the advantages from engaging in various types of yoga for a consistent period of time:
Yoga is an effective de-stressor
Yoga improves flexibility at the joints (helping to reduce joint pain, back pain, etc.)
Yoga helps to relax muscle and tendon tension (helping to reduce muscle pain, knots, etc)
Yoga improves mental health; this is a side effect of meditation and exercise
Yoga helps to improve sleep quality
Yoga can be used as a part of a weight loss plan
Some forms of yoga can help to improve muscle strength
Yoga is low impact, and safe for those with bad joints, etc.