Yoga is Exercise

Story provided by TSET Healthy Living Program

Many people think that exercise is something that involves going to the gym, lifting weights, and breaking a sweat. For many decades people considered aerobic exercise as the gold standard to obtain health benefits; however, exercise can be anything that requires physical activity and is beneficial to health. Yoga is considered a form of exercise and has some of the same health benefits. Yoga is designed to improve health, performance, and mental awareness.

Yoga has been used as a form of exercise and alternative medicine for many years. The format of yoga usually interchanges between poses and breathing. Poses are the different movements that are used during yoga that range from simple to challenging. Breathing takes place during and in between poses in order to meditate, deepen a stretch, or transition. The relaxation and meditation portion of yoga has been proven to reduce stress which can help improve quality of life.  

Yoga acts as both exercise and meditation. There are different benefit levels of yoga:

  • Physical Level—Yoga poses have been proven to improve strength, flexibility, and balance.
  • Energetic Level—Yoga teaches you how to cope better with stress by cultivating a sense of ease in both active and passive poses.
  • Psychological Level—Yoga helps cultivate mindfulness by shifting awareness to sensations, thoughts, and emotions that accompany the poses.

Research has shown that yoga reduces risk of heart disease and hypertension. It can also help lower symptoms of depression and diabetes. Yoga is an act of prevention, by contributing to an overall healthy lifestyle.

  1. Mala Cunningham, Ph.D., counseling psychologist states that yoga also has proven benefits for those who have faced cardiac arrest, heart attack, or another heart event. “The acute emotional stress of such an event certainly has a significant and adverse effect on the heart,” she said. “That’s where yoga can be a tremendous benefit to manage the stress.” Cunningham further explains that half of bypass surgery patients go through depression, facing emotions ranging from anxiety to grieving. “All these things come into play when you’ve got a potentially chronic disease to manage for the rest of your life.”

The beauty of yoga versus other physical activities is that anyone can participate, regardless of previous health conditions. There are modifications for all poses and you can even participate in yoga while sitting in a chair.

The benefits of yoga on your physical, mental, and emotional health evolve as your yoga practice evolves. After one class you may notice improvements in brain function, lower stress level, and increased flexibility. Within a few months you may begin to notice that you have lower blood pressure, anxiety relief, lower blood sugar levels, and an improved sense of balance. After a few years of practicing yoga you may start to notice that you have stronger bones and you are maintaining a healthy weight. These are all benefits that you can achieve throughout the progression in your yoga practice.

If you are looking for another way to be physically active, give yoga a try. You will not regret engaging in this peaceful exercise that has been practiced for over one hundred years!

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