When people think about yoga, they may think about the strength it gives, having to stretch like a gymnast or they may underestimate the excersize completely. The truth is, there are many different forms of yoga and all of them have many health benefits.
Ashtanga is a style of yoga, much like power yoga, that is a vigorous work out. Practicing this form of yoga helps to improve your muscle tone.
Most yoga styles are not quite as vigorous and still have strength benefits. Iyengar or hatha focus on precise body alignment poses with less movement than other styles. These can provide you with strength and endurance.
If you want to build upper-body strength, many poses such as downward down, upward dog and the plank pose help immensely with this. In standing poses you build up strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps and abdominal muscles. You can also strengthen your lower back with upward dog and the chair pose. Nearly all poses will build core strength and deep abdominal muslces if done right.
Yoga increases flexability and strength. Most standing and sitting positions will develop your core body strength. Yoga also increases you awareness of your body and how it sitting. This awareness will cause you to notice more quickly if you are slouching when you stand or sit. Because of this you're more likely to sit with a straight back and walk "tall."
There are yoga styles that focus and use meditation. During this meditation you quiet your mind and the chatter that can often lead to stress. The yoga styles that focus on deep breathing also cause the mind to focus solely on breath and will quiet the "mind chatter."
Yoga causes a host of biochemical responses which help with relieving stress. Lowering hormones such as dopamind, norepinephrine and epinephrine causes the body and mind to feel more calm. The "trust" and "bonding" hormone, oxytocin, can be found in greater quantities in those who do yoga. This hormone is associated with the feeling of relaxation and being connected to others.
Yoga has been known to slow the heart and lower blood pressure. Slowing the heart rate can be beneficial those those with high blood pressure, heart disease or who have had a stroke. On a chemical level, there is a possibility that yoga has an anti-oxidant effect though this is still under study and research. Yoga has also been associated with decreased cholesterol which helps pervent heart attacks.
While most clinical studies on yoga are being done outside of the U.S. there are still studies on the benefits of therapeutic yoga. Therapeutic yoga is used for treatment of depression, heart disease and other specific medical conditions. Aside from these things yoga also has a benefit for chronicl medical conditions. When practiced regularly it has been known to relieve symptoms of asthma, back pain and even arthritis.
Yoga may have a positive effect on the brains ability to learn and memory according to certain research and studies. There have also been studies on yoga and its connection to a person's self-acceptance, its improval of energy levels and even its ability to slow the aging process.
Anyone can see all that yoga can do for them in reguards to health and physical strength. Go out and practice it and see all the benefits you can from yoga!
Zillah Renee is a new and upcoming blogger. She works at home from her laptop on her personal blog and on Elance. After realizing the damage being done to her spine from sitting all day, she started researching ways to counteract this effect. She now does regular yoga and loves to share her knowledge with the world!