By no means am I even remotely talented as a yogi, (in fact, I’m quite awkward) but I admit I have been getting into the movement, almost by accident. As an avid runner, I not long ago had a notion that anything not intensely-cardio-related was a waste of exercising time. I tried a yoga video with one of my roommates once, and it pretty much verified my prejudices.
Then a coworker of mine couldn’t stop raving about the new Bikram yoga place in town, so I decided to give it a try. And boy, did I sweat! This class completely changed my perception of what yoga meant. Did I enjoy myself? Well, I generally enjoy working hard and exerting myself, so yes. But it wasn’t like running, it was something I could only do in small doses, like 2 times a week (3 tops!). I definitely felt like I was improving my overall fitness by adding this to my routine.
Then I got a little bored of it. I was already living in a humid Midwestern summer, so adding a humid yoga class wasn’t exactly the escape it had been in the winter. And knowing exactly what is going to happen for the next 90 minutes as soon as you step into the room can sometimes be a little too much information. (Note for those of you who aren’t familiar with Bikram: it is a 90 minute class in a heated room, about 105 degrees, where you do 26 poses, 2 times each, as you are prompted by the instructor. Same poses, same order, every time.) So I let Bikram sit for a few months while I got into other things.
I didn’t want to give up yoga after my intense Bikram spree, because I learned that I loved the benefits I received from it; I just wanted to try something new. Enter Power Vinyasa Yoga. I went with my cousin to a yoga studio downtown that offered this class in a heated room (only 90 degrees, which feels a TON more comfortable!), and afterwards, I realized I had found my yoga-home. Power Vinyasa is an energetic form of yoga that requires you move fluidly from one pose to the next as you are prompted while connecting your breathing to the movements. Power Vinyasa incorporates strength, flexibility, balance, cardio, and physical and mental stamina. There are regular sequences that can be used by instructors, but what I love most is the variety. Putting the poses into different sequences challenges your mind and body, and you feel great afterwards!
*Photo credit: Lululemon Athletica (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
There are so many health benefits that you can gain from Power Vinyasa Yoga! Here are just a few:
A consistent yoga practice decreases blood pressure through better circulation and oxygenation of the body.
A slower pulse rate indicates that the heart is strong enough to pump more blood with fewer beats. Regularly practicing yoga provides a lower pulse rate.
Yoga improves blood circulation. By transporting nutrients and oxygen throughout the body, yoga practice provides healthier organs, skin, and brain.
Like the circulatory system, a lower respiratory rate indicates that the lungs are working more efficiently. Yoga decreases the respiratory rate through a combination of controlled breathing exercises and better fitness.
A combination of lower heart rate and improved oxygenation to the body (both benefits of yoga) results in higher cardiovascular endurance.
Yoga practice massages internal organs, thus improving the ability of the body to prevent disease. Additionally, an experienced yoga practitioner becomes better attuned to the body to know at first sign if something isn’t functioning properly, thereby allowing for quicker response to head off disease.
Gastrointestinal functions have been shown to improve in both men and women who practice yoga.
Yoga practice has frequently been correlated with a stronger immune system.
Pain tolerance is much higher among those who practice yoga regularly. In addition to pain tolerance, some instances of chronic pain, such as back pain, are lessened or eliminated through yoga (see below for more on back pain).
Having a balanced metabolism results in maintaining a healthy weight and controlling hunger. Consistent yoga practice helps find the balance and creates a more efficient metabolism.