The Healing Power of Yoga
I used to be one of those people that only worked out if it
involved serious, jolting cardiovascular movement, lifting
heavy weights, and basically moving fast and sweating my
Then I was introduced to yoga, a practice that I knew
helped a lot of people with back and muscle problems, which
I was starting to experience both with age and with my
continuing status as a "desk job" professional. The funny
thing is, I did not start practicing yoga to actually get a
"work out", which I thought could only be obtained through
my grueling sessions on the treadmill, eliptical machine,
and recumbent bike.
Oh no, for me yoga was strictly a relaxation exercise, one
designed to help stretch my muscles and soothe my busy
mind. Little did I realize, I was getting an excellent
workout with yoga, combined with all the benefits of a
serious cardio workout, as was apparent upon waking up the
next day to an invariably sore rump and tummy.
But it didn't always "feel" like I was working out when I
did yoga, especially the better I got at it. I wondered
why this could be. Then I figured it out, with a little
help from a yoga instructor. She said that as you begin to
learn to use your breath through the practice of yoga
breathing techniques, your muscles actually get more oxygen.
Lack of oxygen to the muscles builds up lactic acid within
the muscles, which leads to our sore muscles after a
serious workout. Oxygen also plays a vital role in
managing stress. It has been found in numerous studies
that one who is under stress has low blood oxygen levels,
and this is due to the fact that they are not breathing
properly through the stressful or anxiety inducing event.
This is why you will often find that you feel short of
breath when you are going through a stressful situation,
and this is also why asthmatics often have asthma attacks
during highly stressful episodes, or when their emotions
are on "high".
This made perfect sense. Not only did yoga help to
streamline my body, but it helped me learn to manage my
breathing, and condition my body and mind to manage stress
and anxiety through breathing with my body, not against it.
You see, yoga is much more than a meditational or
contortionist exercise. It actually transcends what we
think of as exercise.
Yoga is a tool that we can use to manage stress, condition
our mind and body to be more in touch with one another, and
to also gain a sense of tranquility and well being.
Yoga practice ranges from a more active, moving practice
called Ashtanga yoga or power yoga, to a more methodical,
slower moving practice called Hatha yoga, which
concentrates more on a slower, fluid movement and is geared
toward those that may not have exercised in a while or who
have back issues.
There is also another type, which I had the pleasure of
participating in on my recent trip to northern California,
called Bikram yoga, where you practice yoga poses ranging
form beginner to advanced in a room heated to almost 100
This type of yoga can be strenuous on the beginner, and is
usually only recommended for those who are very fit or very
well versed in the practice of yoga. I found the Bikram
yoga to be challenging, but after I emerged from the room
after the two hours of posing, I felt a sense of
empowerment and clarity that continued on for the rest of
It is said that Bikram yoga may actually help rid the body
of toxins through the sweat that is produced during the
practice. And believe me, sweat you will. There was not a
person in the room that had anything less than soaking wet
Since I've started regularly practicing yoga about three
times a week, I find my stress levels are down, my back
hurts me less while I am working at my desk, and my muscles
have taken on a longer, leaner look.
I feel that I am more intuned with my breathing, and I use
my breath now to get me through stressful situations that
usually would leave me breathless and anxious. I have
found yoga to be a true blessing to my life, and will be a
lifetime devotee of this empowering and enriching practice.
About the Author:
Danna Schneider is the founder of
where news on new
natural products and alternative health can be found.
Word Count: 740
Author: Danna Schneider
Article URL: http://www.submityo