As an avid fan of health and fitness, I pay close attention to fitness fads and I’d like to think I do so objectively. After all, fad or not, good fitness is good fitness. With that said, the next 15 minutes of fame go to yoga. Yoga looks deceptively simple; just a little bending and deep breathing? What fitness aficionado can’t do that? Welp, after attending a few classes I quickly realized how much of a workout it was. Not to get all jargon-y, but I left feeling ‘centered’ and like I could jump over a building…if only my legs would stop shaking. Don’t let the calm atmosphere, wooden walls, and good vibes fool you; Yoga is an exceptional practice and vigorous workout.
Yoga’s been a ‘cool’ thing since the 1980’s (and it clearly has been practiced all over the world since the 6th century) but as of late, it appears that it’s been pimped out for its sex appeal as opposed to its inherent health benefits. The other day I was on Instagram and happened to stumble on the #yogaafterdark hashtag. (Nevermind how I got there; focus!) Scrolling through, it looked like soft core porn had made its way to the ‘gram.
Now, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate the ‘fine arts” but I don’t want us to forget what the point of this practice is;
A Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.
While the beauty of language is its elasticity, I’m going to go ahead and bet that no logical interpretation of this word included what Instagram hath wrought. So instead, I’ll share just a few of the many benefits of yoga that have nothing to do with tight spandex leotards, overdone make-up, or thinly veiled excuses to publicly bust it open.
Increased flexibility, muscle strength and tone
I’m sure you already knew this part, but here’s thinking behind it–Executing yoga poses creates ‘time under tension’ which means you are putting your muscles, ligaments and tendons under duress. In response to this, you’ll not only make these parts of your body stronger but also become more flexible and in time, better able to respond to physical tension.
Improved respiration, energy and vitality
It’s said that humans release the majority of their toxins through breathing, yet, most of us have kind of forgotten how to breathe properly, which can lead to illnesses. In general, yoga requires you to be constantly connected to both the intake and outlet of your breath while the body is under stress. I could write an entire blog post on why being fully oxygenated is critical to being alive, but long story short– more oxygen equals better mental clarity, less tension and a stronger immune system.
This one is tricky because yoga doesn’t literally equate to weight reduction but it helps in a big way. As you do yoga consistently, you strengthen and develop your muscle fibers. Lean muscle mass helps burn more calories during workouts and at rest and the more calories you burn, the more weight you can lose.
The point here is simple; Enjoy the art and practice of yoga and its benefits but let’s not exploit it for cheap likes and a reason to have eggplant emojis in your DM’s.
* put on Superman full body leotard and heads to Bikram *