What Happens To Your Body When You Start Doing Yoga
If you’re considering giving yoga a try, rest assured that you don’t have to be a contortionist to do it. But it’s best to find a class with a teacher, as starting on your own with a video can be tough. It’s important to learn how to do the poses correctly, at which point you can supplement your class time by doing yoga at home. On the topic of frequency, Ross says, “the scientific literature has shown that the health benefits of yoga can be obtained with a single weekly class, but most studies have used a bigger ‘dose.’ So it is logical to assume that the more you put in, the more you’ll likely get out.”
For decades, aerobic exercise—the type that raises your heart and breathing rates, such as running or cycling—has been touted by scientists as the gold standard in terms of the number of health benefits it brings. More energy, improved mood, lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers, better sleep, better thinking, better sex, and on and on. (Which is why Rodale.com recommends it at every opportunity.) But as it turns out, there may be another form of exercise that does even more for you: yoga. And weight control may be at the top of its long list of yoga benefits. (Yoga pairs well with meditation: join us for our live online 21-day New Year, New You meditation challenge!)
Surprising Ways Yoga Affects Your Health
In 2010, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Nursing published a comparative analysis of 81 studies that examined yoga's health benefits and the health benefits of aerobic exercise. The researchers found yoga to be especially effective at reducing stress. This may not be news to those who practice yoga, but even die-hard enthusiasts will be surprised at the number of other health benefits yoga can confer—often to a larger degree than aerobic exercise. The researchers found that yoga outperformed aerobic exercise at improving balance, flexibility, strength, pain levels among seniors, menopausal symptoms, daily energy level, and social and occupation functioning, among other health parameters.
Ways Stress Takes A Toll On Your Body
Yoga does more than calm you down and make you flexible. "We were a little surprised by the results," admits lead researcher Alyson Ross, MSN, RN. "We played around with the studies, making tables grouping the studies in a variety of ways (disease condition, health outcomes, and so forth). When we sorted them by exercise and yoga side-by-side, it became apparent we were on to something."