Yoga: Health Benefits Beyond the Mat

The purpose of yoga is to build strength, flexibility, and awareness. The muscle stretching in yoga can lessen arthritis pain, backache, and headaches. Yoga has many benefits for your heart and lungs as well. It lowers your blood pressure and slows your heart rate. Yoga may also help increase muscle strength, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and improve breathing and energy.

Yoga mat

Aside from the physical benefits, yoga can help manage stress. Yoga involves paying attention to your breath, which can improve mental well-being. Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness. It relieves chronic stress patterns, relaxes the mind, and sharpens concentration.

More than 100 different types of yoga exist. There is a form of yoga for everyone! Your size or fitness level does not matter. Every yoga pose can be modified. Beginner classes are available in every style. If you’re new to yoga, practice these 12 basic yoga poses to get started at WebMD (

Harvard Health (
American Osteopathic Association (

The Scoop on Hot Yoga

Hot Yoga

Not a big fan of warm or hot yoga? Don’t sweat it! A new study published in the Journal of Experimental Physiology showed that participants who worked up a sweat in hot yoga got the same heart health benefits as those who did yoga at room temperature.

Bikram (hot) yoga has been increasing in popularity. It consists of 26 yoga poses done in a room heated to 105oF. Researchers compared adults who took three 90-minute yoga classes a week (either hot or at room temperature) over 12 weeks. These adults were also compared with a control group of people who did no yoga at all. The hot-yoga group did decrease their body fat more than the room-temperature yoga or control groups. However, people in both yoga groups showed improved heart health. So, if health and vitality are your goals, you can choose either form of yoga.


Source: Hunter SD, Laosiripisan J, Elmenshawy A, Tanaka H. Effects of yoga interventions practiced in heated and thermoneutral conditions on endothelium-dependent vasodilation: The Bikram yoga heart study. Experimental Physiology. 2018;103:391–396.

What’s Hot—Bikram Yoga

woman yogaYoga is a good way to be physically active because it promotes increased flexibility, muscle strength, and tone, as well as improved respiration, energy, and vitality. Yoga can also help with weight reduction and circulatory health. There are more than 20 different types of yoga! One variation gaining in popularity is Bikram yoga, often referred to as “hot yoga” because this style specializes in using a heated environment.

Bikram yoga is 90 minutes long and consists of 26 postures, including two breathing exercises, and takes place in a room 104 degrees with 40% humidity. The caution with hot yoga is the room temperature and the potential health risks it poses. Hot yoga may increase the risk of heat exhaustion if your body is no longer able to regulate its usual temperature. Heat exhaustion can lead to heavy sweating, dehydration, decreased blood pressure, and increased heart rate. These effects on your body may make you feel weak, dizzy, or nauseated.

Before starting hot yoga, or any physical activity program, it’s always a good idea to consult your health care provider to make sure it is safe for you to do so, especially if you are pregnant or have a serious health condition. For more information, visit


Yoga PoseIf the hustle and bustle of work, home, or life in general leaves you feeling tense and stressed out, try relaxing with yoga. Yoga is a type of exercise that uses different postures with deep breathing exercises and meditation. Many who have tried yoga share that it leaves them feeling calm and rejuvenated. Yoga was developed more than 5,000 years ago in India for those who wanted to experience spiritual uplifting.

Today, thousands of people still find yoga to be uplifting. However, research has shown that yoga has additional health benefits. Yoga improves muscle strength and flexibility, reduces stress, decreases body fat, improves circulation, stimulates the immune system, and boosts concentration as well as creativity. It also helps you burn calories. A 150-pound person can burn approximately 130 calories in 30 minutes of yoga.

With all these benefits, why not try it? Proper instruction from professionals is strongly recommended to avoid injury. Check out your local library for a yoga video or the local gym for yoga classes. If you have never tried yoga before, here are some tips:

  • Start slow — it is better to go slow and take breaks when needed than to wear yourself out too quickly. If you feel tired, take a timeout and drink some water.
  • Block out all distractions; focus on correct posture and positioning by following the instructions given on the video or by the instructor.
  • Remain focused on posture — this will help increase your yoga stamina.
  • If you are taking a yoga class, always ask for extra guidance from the instructor when needed.

Remember to consult your physician before trying any new exercise.

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