It seems new yoga studios are popping up every day. In the town where I live, there are three yoga studios within a 100-yard radius. The increasing number of these quaint little gyms has many wondering if the exercise regimen is just another trend. Are yoga studios expanding faster than their customer base in the same way that Starbucks and Krispy Kreme Donuts did years ago? Or is the demand for yoga really great enough to justify putting a studio on every corner? Most importantly, is yoga as effective at boosting overall health as yogis claim it is?
There are many different variations on Yoga. Need an exercise that relaxes you? There’s a yoga technique for that. Need an exercise that increases your heart rate and burns fat? There’s a yoga technique for that, too. The different variations on yoga run from beginning to expert. Beginners yoga starts with breathing exercises in a candle lit room. Expert yoga involves contorting your body so that your head becomes the third leg of a tripod.
All the different yoga practices carry names that distinguish their degree of difficulties. Some examples include Vinyasa Yoga and Bikram Yoga. Regardless of which variation you choose, it is more likely than not that you will leave the class with improved circulation. All yoga practices involve maintaining a certain stance or position for a substantial amount of time. Yogis go through these stances and positions in cycles throughout the exercise. The cycles are coordinated in a way that’s conducive to good blood flow.
Good circulation is key to Yoga. The positions and stances yogis go through typically require amazing flexibility, especially in more advanced classes. Flexibility requires stretching, and stretching a cold muscle is simply not a good idea. Sometimes yoga classes are instructed in a heated room. In a cold environment, blood rushes to your chest cavity in order to protect vital organs. In a hot environment, the exact opposite occurs. Increased blood flow to the limbs allows the yoga to stretch muscles, alleviating soreness and pain as well as improving one’s flexibility.
But maintaining stances and continuously changing positions isn’t just good for your circulatory system. A regular yoga routine is considered one of the best ways to strengthen your core. If you’re unfamiliar with what your “core” is, it is simply the region that encompasses your abdominal muscles. A strong core is the foundation of a strong body in general. All the other muscles in your upper and lower body rely on the core region for support. Subsequently, a strong core leads to better posture, which in turn can make a yogi appear taller. There are some instances where people gained nearly three inches in height simply by improving their core and posture.
As if improving flexibility and strengthening your core weren’t enough, yoga is also great for burning fat. Continuously moving from one hard-to-maintain stance to another in a heated room is a great way to work up a sweat. A good cardiovascular workout is essential for those looking to loose weight. And some yoga instructors claim that an hour and a half of Bikram yoga can burn as many as 900 calories.
So if you’re looking for a way to increase flexibility, strengthen your core and loose a little weight, stop by your friendly neighborhood yoga studio. There’s a reason why this ancient wisdom from the east hasbeen around for millennia. Try it for yourself, today!