Yoga is taking over, but is the fad for you? The benefits to the practice and the things that make it not the best option for everyone

STRETCH IT OUT — Drop in for a class or watch a flow video online to work on flexibility and body strength. (NPR)


Yogis are popping up all over the internet and many people are hopping on the fad of centering themselves and stretching out. So what are the benefits to yoga and is it a good form of an alternative exercise? The first pro of yoga is that it is a good form of stress relief. Yoga is focused on being calm and it’s important to take time to do things that intentionally focus on being relaxed. Deep breathing is even proven to reduce stress on  a physiological level.

When we take a deep breath, our heart rate lowers. If you want to test the theory, find your pulse. Take a deep breath while sitting down and notice your heart rate lowering. The same thing happens with your blood pressure.

Likewise, yoga can help with weight loss in some cases. Losing weight with this method is not going to be the typical way to lose weight. Because of the stress-reducing nature of yoga, it can first help with eating habits. We often tend to eat worse and  more because of stress, so when we eliminate more stress in our lives, we can naturally reduce our caloric intake to improve our weight. Additionally, because yoga classes are typically longer (45+ minutes), our bodies begin to tap into fat metabolism. Because it typically takes at least 45 minutes for us to start using our fat stores, longer duration is necessary to burn fat calories (or doing something of high intensity that burns fat during recovery to refuel). However, in order for us to lose weight from  yoga, the class must challenge us enough that we actually need to break into our energy stores. Therefore, challenging yourself to do the poses and hold them is important. Ashtanga, Vinyasa or Power Flow are all good options to push yourself. Or hop in on a hot yoga class and break a real crazy sweat.

However, yoga may not be the perfect fit for everyone, especially for a busy and poor college kid. Yoga studios typically charge a lot for a membership or just drop in fees. Also, you have to learn the basics before you level up in the studio. A good alternative could be using online sources to learn the basics, but you would miss out on the personalized teaching  of an instructor.

Yoga also can be tough to get a really solid workout depending on what type you’re doing, so if you’re looking to lose weight faster, it could be challenging.

However, there are many good perks to doing yoga, especially mentally. It may be a good idea to try out a class and see if it’s something you would enjoy. Don’t try out just one class and never go back. Like most things, you may not be “hooked” the first time you try it, so go to a couple of studios for drop-in classes and some variety of styles to see if something suits your style better. There are plenty of places near campus and even on-campus events to keep your eyes peeled for.

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