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Yoga Fitness

Get information on yoga fitness and how it relates to weight loss.

Yoga is comprised of a series of poses that promotes stability and strength. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Yoga is comprised of a series of poses that promotes stability and strength.

Yoga fitness is an increasingly popular way to lose weight, become stronger and improve or maintain health. The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means to control, yoke or unite. For this reason, the common English translation of the word yoga is union.

Yoga Fitness Overview

Those new to yoga fitness may not be sure exactly what yoga is. Yoga began more than 3,000 years ago in India. Fitness is an important part of yoga, but those who practice yoga know that it is more of a way of life than a simple exercise. Yoga involves training the mind, body and breath. In addition, yoga helps people connect with their spirituality. While there are several types of yoga, the type Westerners are most familiar with is Hatha yoga. When practicing Hatha yoga, a person performs a series of poses while concentrating on his or her breathing. The person sometimes also meditates or chants.

Benefits of Yoga Fitness

Those who practice yoga fitness enjoy many health benefits, especially when they combine yoga fitness with a healthy diet. These benefits include:

Increased flexibility

When people practice yoga fitness, they participate in a variety of exercises. Many of these exercises involve parts of the body that normally get little or no attention. Yoga stretches both muscles and joints. It loosens tight muscles and allows muscle groups to work together.

Massaging body organs

Because of the unique nature of yoga fitness, all the body's internal glands and organs are stimulated and massaged. This helps to prevent disease. In addition, avid yoga participants can often sense the onset of an illness or disorder sooner than their non-yoga peers.

Detoxification

Yoga fitness gently stretches and conditions all muscles and joints, creating optimal blood supply to different parts of the body. This helps flush out toxins and provide nourishment. Benefits of detoxification include delayed aging, increased energy and a renewed enthusiasm for life.

Muscle toning

Those who regularly participate in yoga fitness develop great muscle tone, which is a key component in weight loss. According to Weightlossforall.com, muscle cells burn the most calories and are responsible for 90 percent of the calories people burn each day. Muscle toning is a key component in long-term weight loss. A pound of muscle burns about 60 calories a day. Compare that to a pound of fat, which only burns five calories a day. Stronger, leaner muscle helps people burn more calories, even when they are resting. They will be much stronger, too, and their bodies will have more definition.

Decreased stress

Most Americans feel as if they have been burning the candle at both ends. The MayoClinic.com recommends yoga as a great way to reduce stress.

Getting Started With Yoga Fitness

Yoga can seem incredibly complicated from the outside, but there are plenty of resources available to help yoga fitness beginners. Most gyms, YMCAs and community centers offer yoga fitness classes, and it's not hard to find one tailored toward beginners. Before signing up for a class, make sure the instructor is registered with the Yoga Alliance. Yoga Alliance certified instructors have at least 200 hours in yoga fitness techniques and teaching experience. Many instructors allow participants to observe a class or two before committing to make sure that yoga fitness is the right activity for them.

People who would rather work out at home can turn to DVDs and Web sites to learn about yoga fitness. Fitness Magazine's Web site has a variety of poses and workouts that people can try at home. However, beginners should keep in mind that self-education cannot compare to learning the poses from a real teacher. At-home yoga is best for those who have already taken an introductory class and are simply trying to learn more about yoga fitness.

What to Expect From a Yoga Fitness Class

Yoga fitness classes typically start with a warm-up routine consisting of a sequence of poses to prepare the spine, arms and legs. The main part of any yoga fitness class is a series of very specific poses, concentrating on different areas of the body. A yoga class typically ends with a relaxation exercise.

People learning yoga fitness should wear comfortable clothes to their first yoga class. Material that allows them to breathe and move freely is important. Most people feel comfortable in stretchy pants or shorts with a tank top or loose-fitting T-shirt. Participants don't need shoes, as yoga fitness is practiced barefoot.

Those learning shouldn't worry if they can't do all the poses right away. The instructor will work with them to help them correctly perform the poses. In addition, an instructor may suggest modified poses that beginners can do until they become strong enough to attempt the more advanced poses.

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