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August 17, 2011

Yoga and your Health

by yogamaistro

Everybody knows that Yoga relaxes the body and increases flexibility, but is it enough to keep the body fit? According to some Yogis, the answer is: “yes.” Strength can be developed by holding postures for 20 seconds or longer.

Yoga styles that hold postures for minutes will develop strength levels in their students without an increase in body weight. In contrast, flowing styles such as Vinyasa Yoga develop flexibility and strength through repetitive movement.

While the exact definition of fitness can vary from one person to another, there are several components that all degrees of fitness have in common. According to some schools of thought, physical fitness relates both to the ability to perform physical activity and to prevent or manage health related concerns, such as heart disease.

In the purely physical sense, there are five major areas to which fitness applies: body fat to lean muscle mass ratio, health of internal organs, flexibility, condition of the muscles, skeletal health, and the cardio-respiratory system. When analyzing Yoga to determine whether it is enough to stay physically fit, it has been found that results depend not only on the type of physical routine, but also how much time is dedicated to the practice.

The same rule applies to other physical activities such as a walking program. In the case of walking a minimum of 20 minutes a day is considered a low end benchmark. What makes anyone think any other physical activity should be different, when considering a minimum standard for physical benefits. From a holistic viewpoint, a balanced Yoga routine requires a combination of flowing movements and weight-bearing poses for a minimum of three hours per week in addition to breath work (pranayama) and meditation.

12 Yoga Moves that Really Help You Stay Fit

• Sun Salutations

• Moon Salutations

• Warrior Poses

• Shoulder Stand

• Bridge Pose

• Plank Pose

• Tree Pose

• Triangle Pose

• Seated Twists

• Downward Facing Dog Pose

• Upward Facing Dog Pose

• Boat Pose

5 Popular Styles of Yoga to Help You Stay Fit

• Hatha – focuses on gentle stretches and breathing techniques; great for beginners

• Iyengar – concentrates on body alignment and balance; uses props; also great for beginners

• Kundalini – uses fast movements while chanting and breathing; emphasizes energy systems

• Ashtanga, or Power Yoga – incorporates quick moves designed to build stamina and endurance; usually does not include meditation

• Bikram – takes place in 105 degrees Fahrenheit room; cleanses toxins and loosens muscles

Regardless of whether staying fit means maintaining the energy and stamina to pursue a daily lifestyle or the endurance and vigor to perform athletic feats, there is a style of Yoga and a selection of poses to meet the designated goal. The needs, abilities, and aspirations of every person are different. Therefore, it is helpful for students to seek the help of an experienced Yoga instructor when setting up a fitness plan.

© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, has written many books on the subject of Yoga. He is a co-owner and the Director of Yoga Teacher Training at: Aura Wellness Center, in Attleboro, MA. He has been a certified Master Yoga Teacher since 1995. To receive Free Yoga videos, Podcasts, e-Books, reports, and articles about Yoga, please visit:

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