Friday, July 20, 2012 • Rockaway, NJ 07866
Yoga offers many physical, mental, spiritual and health benefits. Physical benefits depend on the intensity and type of yoga class. Hot yoga, Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Vinyasa are the most intense styles of yoga, each with their own philosophy and techniques. While these styles of yoga get your heart pumping and require vigorous muscle activity, thereby increasing cardiovascular capacity and muscle strength, it doesn't replace traditional cardiovascular or strength training exercise. Here's why...
As the body becomes accustomed to a specific exercise training level (cardio or strength), it can then adapt to a higher workload or intensity as stated in the Principle of Progressive Overload. This principle states that the intensity required to produce a training effect needs to be higher then what was already achieved. Simply put, overload is the act of subjecting your muscles (including your heart) to unaccustomed stress. Once the body has adapted to a certain level of intensity, further adaptation will not take place unless that intensity level is increased. If continued fitness improvements are the main goal, the exercise program must become progressively more demanding. Extending the time, changing the exercises or increasing the workload can increase the level of intensity.
Cardiovascular exercise -- defined as a repetitive, rhythmical exercise involving large muscle groups -- is widely viewed as increasing longevity by increasing the body's demand for oxygen and making the heart and lungs work harder. Lots of things can raise your heart rate; illness, drugs/medication, weight training, watching a horror movie are a few examples. But that doesn't mean the heart is getting stronger through cardio conditioning. Just because yoga makes you sweat and elevates your heart rate doesn't mean you're getting an effective cardiovascular workout. Although yoga may increase heart health to a limited extent, it doesn't replace the benefits of traditional cardiovascular exercise such as walking, running, cycling, etc.
Resistance training works to increase muscle strength, power and endurance by doing weighted exercises: body weight, weight machines, resistance bands, etc. Although yoga has the potential of increasing muscle strength, it's very limited. Yoga only offers body weight as it resistance and its very repetitive in form and technique. Once the body adapts to this form of exercise, there won't be any further benefits in muscle strength.
All this however doesn't not mean yoga is without it's own unique benefits. Yoga entails holding the body in specific poses, thereby improving balance, strength and stamina. It produces a deep relaxation that eases tension and lowers stress. Some postures are designed to help improve circulation, digestion, balance, flexibility and agility. Sustaining the body in certain postures can be quite challenging and necessitate a great deal of strength, balance and concentration. With the need to focus intensely on moving through and holding each pose, the student is consequentially encouraged to clear the mind of any other intruding thoughts. This concentration, or form of meditation, can enhance the vital connection between the mind and body.
Yoga invites the mind to be free of its constant chatter so that the present can be fully appreciated. Incorporating the fundamentals of yoga, participants unite the mind and its emotions with the body to release themselves from tension and stress. With regular practice, yoga empowers us to use our inner strength to restore ourselves to a maximum state of health and well-being.
copyright Tiffiny Twardowsky, Energy in Motion LLC