- Lower your blood pressure and heart rate
- Help you relax
- Improve your self-confidence
- Reduce stress
- Improve your coordination
- Improve your concentration
- Help you sleep better
- Aid with digestion
- Are pregnant
- Have high blood pressure
- Have glaucoma
- Have sciatica
- Ashtanga or power yoga -- this type of yoga offers a more demanding workout. In these classes, you quickly move from one posture to another.
- Bikram or hot yoga -- you do a series of 26 poses in a room heated to 95 to 100 degrees. The goal is to warm and stretch the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and to purify the body through sweat.
- Hatha yoga -- this is sometimes a general term for yoga. It usually includes both breathing and postures.
- Integral -- a gentle type of yoga that may include breathing exercises, chanting, and meditation.
- Iyengar -- a style that places great attention to the precise alignment of the body. You may also hold poses for long periods of time.
- Kundalini -- emphasizes the effects of breath on the postures. The goal is to free energy in the lower body so it can move upwards.
- Viniyoga -- this style adapts postures to each person's needs and abilities, and coordinates breath and postures.
- Breathing. Focusing on your breath is an important part of yoga. Your teacher may offer instruction on breathing exercising during the class.
- Poses. Yoga poses, or postures, are a series of movements that help boost strength, flexibility, and balance. They range in difficulty from lying flat on the floor to difficult balancing poses.
- Meditation. Yoga classes usually end with a short period of meditation. This quiets the mind and helps you relax.
- If you have a health condition, talk with your health care provider before starting yoga. Ask if there are any poses you should avoid.
- Start slowly and learn the basics before pushing yourself too far.
- Choose a class that is appropriate for your level. If you are not sure, ask the teacher.
- DO NOT push yourself beyond your comfort level. If you cannot do a pose, ask your teacher to help you modify it.
- Ask questions if you are not sure how to do a pose.
- Bring along a water bottle and drink plenty of water. This is especially important in hot yoga.
- Wear clothing that allows you to move freely.
- Listen to your body. If you feel pain or fatigue, stop and rest.
Yoga is a practice that connects the body, breath, and mind. It uses physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to improve overall health. Yoga was developed as a spiritual practice thousands of years ago. Today, most Westerners do yoga for exercise or to reduce stress.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga can improve your overall fitness level and improve your posture and flexibility. It may also:
In addition, practicing yoga may also help with the following conditions:
Who Should use Caution
Yoga is generally safe for most people. But you may need to avoid some yoga poses or modify poses if you:
Make sure to tell your yoga instructor if you have any of these conditions or any other health problem or injury. A qualified yoga teacher should be able to help you find poses that are safe for you.
Styles of Yoga
There are many different types or styles of yoga. They range from mild to more intense. Some of the more popular styles of yoga are:
How to get Started
Look for yoga classes at your local gym, health center, or yoga studio. If you are new to yoga, start with a beginner class. Talk with the instructor before the class and tell him or her about any injuries or health conditions you may have.
You may want to ask about the instructor's training and experience. However, while most instructors have had some formal training, there are no certified yoga training programs. Choose an instructor you enjoy working with who does not push you in ways you are not comfortable.
What to Expect
Most yoga classes last from 45 to 90 minutes. All styles of yoga include three basic components:
How to Prevent Injury
While yoga is generally safe, you can still get hurt if you do a pose incorrectly or push yourself too far. Here are some tips to stay safe when doing yoga.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Yoga Injury Prevention. March 2012. Available at: orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00063. Accessed May 6, 2014.
Field T. Yoga clinical research review. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2011 Feb;17(1):1-8. PMID: 21168106 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21168106.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. 5 Things You Should Know About Yoga. Updated October 25, 2012. Available at: nccih.nih.gov/health/tips/yoga. Accessed May 6, 2014.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Yoga for Health. Updated June 2013. Available at: nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm. Accessed May 6, 2014.
- Review date:
- December 07, 2016
- Reviewed by:
- Linda J. Vorvick, MD, medical director and director of didactic curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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