The Diet Detective: Is Yoga Just Fancy Stretching?

The results were a bit surprising--we thought the cardiovascular benefits of yoga would be inconsequential, but that wasn't the case. While it didn't compare to spinning, during which she was in the upper limits of her target heart range more than 50 percent of the time--during yoga she remained in her target heart range approximately 30 percent of the time, albeit in the lower end of the range.

"We are so often crunched for time and if we had to choose just one fitness activity, yoga really can be a one-stop solution--you get flexibility, strength, cardio fitness, as well as calming down the nervous system--it's a pretty attractive combination," adds Dr. McCall.

So, maybe it is fancy stretching, combined with breathing and meditation--but the bottom line is that if you talk to anyone who does yoga--it works like a charm.

Yoga Tips

  1. All ages, all abilities and all types of bodies can benefit from practicing yoga.
  2. A good teacher makes all the difference. Look for an experienced, certified teacher who understands your goals, needs and limitations and can design a practice that's appropriate for you.
  3. Yoga is not about physical perfection, competition or forcing yourself into painful postures. Nor is it a religion. It's a holistic health practice available to people of all faiths and beliefs, designed to impart strength and flexibility, improve circulation and breathing, and relax and revitalize body and mind. A yoga practice can include any or all of the following elements: asanas (poses), pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation and sound (chanting).
  4. Your breath is your life force. It helps facilitate movement, focuses and calms the mind, and energizes the body.
  5. You're only as old as your spine. Improving spinal strength and flexibility is a key focus of yoga. Through regular practice, you can improve your posture and overall body alignment, reduce the risk of back pain, increase your energy, improve your balance, and boost your confidence.

CHARLES STUART PLATKIN is an Active Expert , nutrition and public health advocate, author of the bestseller Breaking the Pattern (Plume, 2005), The Diet Detective's Count Down (Simon & Schuster, 2007) and founder of Integrated Wellness Solutions. Sign up for the free Diet Detective newsletter at www.dietdetective.com.

Source: The Little Yoga Book by Erika Dillman

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