All About Yoga

by Ryan

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What is yoga?

The word yoga comes from the Hindi yoga, originally from
pre-Indo-European yeug, meaning “union” or “to join.”

Eastern vs Western styles

Classic yoga from the east follows ancient Hindu discipline, incorporating
asanas (physical exercises and postures), pranayama (breathing
techniques), and meditation designed to move someone towards peace of mind and
spiritual enlightenment. For Hindus and Buddhists, the goal of yoga is union
with Brahman (the eternal or absolute) and Atman (your true
self) – not so much about sculpting a “yoga booty.” Yoga is not a religion, but
many followers use it to enrich their spiritual practice.
In the west, modern yoga styles are generally thought of as physical
exercises to build flexibility and strength.
East meets
gurusiyag yoga booty

Yoga history

T. Krishnamacharya hitting a scorpion pose
Yoga practice can be traced back 5000 years to Indus-Sarasvati civilizations
in India. (And we thought using free weights was old school.)
A Hindu teacher named Patanjali was said to  have recorded the first
principles of yoga in religious scriptures known as the Yoga Sutra.
Many forms of yoga have been developed since – each focusing on a new realm of
personal development.
Hatha yoga came to the west in the 1920s thanks to T. Krishnamacharya and
remains the most popular style today.

Why yoga is important

Yoga’s popular

The number of people practicing yoga in the U.S. has more than doubled since
1998, from 7 million to 15 million.
Nearly 5% of U.S. businesses offered yoga at the workplace in 2008.
Approximately 75% of U.S. health clubs offer yoga instruction.

Yoga may make you healthier

Yogis claim numerous physical and psychological benefits result from yoga.
But is there any data showing this?
Well, the double-blind test, adored by many Western health professionals,
isn’t possible with yoga. If one group in a study is practicing healthy yoga,
it’s hard to recruit a blind group that isn’t, and doesn’t know it. Still, yoga
data does exist.
Heart disease
Yoga may help reverse heart disease. Well, when
combined with aerobic exercise and a low-fat plant-based diet. The author of one
study said, “Adherence to the yoga and meditation program was as strongly
correlated with the changes in the amount of blockage [in the arteries] as was
the adherence to diet.” Yoga may help to control inflammation throughout the
body as well.
Pain, balance and flexibility
What is one of the greatest fears among the
elderly? Falling. Yoga can help with balance in older folks. Just two sessions
of Hatha yoga per week can increase stability. Before you dismiss yoga as a
Friday night nursing home activity, yoga can improve balance in people under 60
years old too.
Yoga interventions have been shown to be effective
for alleviating back pain and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Stress and mood
Yoga has long been used for relieving stress and
improving mood. Plus, since some people overeat due to stress, conquering stress
with yoga might indirectly improve nutrition.
Women undergoing treatment for cancer have found
yoga to be helpful for mood and controlling stress levels.
Yoga may help control anxiety and the meditation
aspect of yoga can assist those in prison with self-control.
Most yoga is parasympathetic dominant, which may
promote recovery from intense workouts. See the following for more on the
importance of parasympathetic activities:
Disordered eating and weight
Body image disturbances and disordered eating
continue to increase. Authentic yoga studios have no mirrors. Rather, students’
awareness is tuned to internal sensations. Yoga offers a non-verbal adjunct to
standard eating disorder therapy and provides an opportunity to unite the
physical body with inner experience.
When someone encounters awkward or painful
postures in yoga, they are trained to observe the tension and breathe while
coaxing their muscles or joints open, or just accept it as is. This same
technique can be applied to other uncomfortable situations, such as a craving
for junk food or drugs.
Since yoga can help to unite the mind and body, it
can be useful in regulating appetite, decreasing food preoccupation, enhancing
body awareness, and boosting body satisfaction. The longer one participates in
yoga, the more self-awareness and positive impact on body image/eating they
develop (i.e., years may be more effective than months).
Yoga can help eliminate binge-eating patterns.
This may be due to the meditation aspect and ability to heighten
People who practiced yoga regularly for four years
or more gained less weight as they got older. Moreover, overweight individuals
who practiced yoga for four or more years managed to lose weight over a 10-year
Yoga’s effect on neurotransmitters  From: Douglass L. Yoga as an intervention in the treatment of eating disorders: does it help? Eating Disorders 2009;17:126-139.
Yoga’s effect on neurotransmitters. From: Douglass L.
“Yoga as an intervention in the treatment of eating disorders: does it help?”
Eating Disorders 2009;17:126-139.
Yoga may be useful for alleviating symptoms of
Lymphatic system
Exercise, particularly yoga can help increase
lymph drainage.
There have been few reliable studies using yoga
for epilepsy, but the results are encouraging. Yoga may stimulate the vagus
nerve, which can decrease seizure frequency.

Getting injured

This just in: You can get injured doing yoga (like most physical
13,000 Americans have visited the ER or doctor’s office during the past three
years due to yoga-related injuries. That’s outrageous. Oh, wait a minute, no
it’s not. 7.6 million ER visits each year are associated with alcohol.
Yoga is dangerous for people who do too much, too soon — the folks who
haven’t stretched since high school band camp and want to show off for the cute
girl/guy in the front row of Saturday morning yoga. Goodbye hamstring attachment
site; hello physical therapy office. You’ll see case reports of serious injuries
in those attempting advanced yoga poses when they shouldn’t be.
Those who are pregnant or have glaucoma should check themselves before trying
to perform any postural yoga that increases pressure in the torso and head (like
Finally, folks with hypermobility of the lumbar spine (lower back) might
increase their risk of low back problems and vertebral stress fractures with
poses that involve excessive hyperextension of the lumbar spine, like this:

What you should know about yoga

Be aware of your yoga instructor’s background, qualifications, experience and
training. Check their style and figure out who attends their classes. Just like
a coach, teacher or trainer, we all have different preferences.

Yoga styles

Virtually all forms of yoga can be traced back to the four cornerstones:
ritual, knowledge, devotional and tantric.
There are many varieties of yoga to choose from. Here’s a brief description
of the more popular styles.
Ayurvedic yoga combines Asanas, Pranayama, and
meditation. Asanas strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and rejuvenate the
body. The aim of this style is to bring natural order and balance to hormones
and metabolism. Adherents see this as a natural way to treat stress-related

All levels are invited here. There is a focus on
creative freedom and individuality – so get ready to express yourself. This is a
“recent” style started in 1997. You’ll probably be doing some chanting here.

This discipline involves synchronizing the breath
with a progressive series of postures. The result is internal heat and sweating,
which detoxifies the muscles and organs.
Adherents of Ashtanga, which is the most vigorous
form practised, claim that the results include improved circulation, a light and
strong body, and a calm mind. It is fast paced and a high strength to bodyweight
ratio is necessary.

Bikram (often called “hot”)
Imagine doing yoga in a dry sauna. Bikram yoga is
a series of 26 traditional Hatha yoga postures and breathing exercises, all
performed in a heated room. The entire workout takes approximately 90 minutes,
and will leave you sweaty.

Hatha/Ananda (often called “restorative”)
Hatha yoga is the most commonly practised form in
the West – its combination of Asanas, Pranayama and meditation providing a
balanced approach to physical and mental health. It is the least strenuous yoga.
If you have exercise ADD, you may get bored. If you are intimidated and figuring
out where to start with yoga, this is the class.

This is purist yoga, named after B.K.S.
. It has a slow pace with a priority of mastering poses in isolation.
Feel free to get assistance from blocks, straps or pads. Good for learning yoga
fundamentals. Folks who need constant variety might get bored.

Are you ready to awaken kundalini? This is a form
of vinyasa yoga. More spiritual than others. You’ll be getting your chant on
during this class. Kundalini incorporates a number of elements, including
Pranayama, Asanas, mantras (chants), and meditation. Regular practice will help
you develop a healthy body and balanced mind.

This is an excellent way to stay in shape and
prepare for the rigors of both pregnancy and childbirth. The stretching and
strengthening work is of great preparation for labor, with exercises which can
be safely practiced in all stages of pregnancy.

Vinyasa/power yoga
A breath-synchronized form of yoga. Most modern
“power yoga” classes are this format. Requires more strength than most other

Summary and recommendations

Most exercise enthusiasts acknowledge that yoga isn’t the most comprehensive
workout. Yet even though it’s not optimal for increasing strength, muscle, or
cardiovascular health in isolation, it’s mindful physical movement.
For those who participate in regular forms of exercise, incorporating yoga
1-2 times each week might assist in stress relief, recovery, balance, mood, and
flexibility. If you try a class and don’t like it, try another one. They are all
For those looking to get a grasp on mindful eating habits, meditation, and
body awareness, taking yoga 1-2 times each week may help.

Extra credit

“Learning to meditate means taking back control.” Bernard Young (Prisoner in

Further resources


About dkpilates

Pilates Instructor, Yoga Instructor, Personnel trainer and Group Fitness Instructor. Don teaches Contemporary and the Authentic forms of Pilates, in the later 90's, Don began his study of Yoga. His study of Yoga includes the Hatha, Iyengar, Bikram, and Astanga disciplines. His other areas of interest in fitness include Martial Arts, Spin, Boot Camp Training, and Weight Training. Don has extensive training and certifications from AFFA, IDEA, MadDog, B-Fit and Polestar. Don Continues his of Pilates education with Michelle Larson in Santa Fe New Mexico. His personal philosophy related to fitness is to aid students in a personalized balance of strength, stamina and flexibility. He is dedicated to design a program specifically for his students independent of the season of their life to create functional movement and help them reach their fitness goals.
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1 Response to All About Yoga

  1. Pingback: Clash of the Titans: Cardio Vs. Strength Training | The Core Matrix

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