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What are the Benefits of Yoga?

By John Lister
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The benefits of yoga vary depending on the precise type of yoga practiced. At one extreme it can be an almost entirely spiritual affair and a way of life. At the other, it can be a purely physical form of exercise.

In its purest form, yoga is as much a philosophy as a physical activity. It can cover beliefs such as avoiding violence or coveting possessions. It can also include activities such as meditation and contemplation.

Many people, particularly in the West, are more likely to experience the health benefits of yoga in the form of exercise. This type of yoga has many names but comes under the overall title of Asana. This term refers to the numerous positions which yoga practitioners move themselves into as part of a routine.

The medical benefits of yoga can be somewhat disputed depending on your interpretation of medicine. For example, some yoga enthusiasts believe it can help a form of life energy known as prana to flow better. But even those who stick to the mainstream scientific attitude to the body recognize that yoga has physical benefits. These include improving blood supply to all parts of the body, increasing flexibility by stretching muscles, and relieving some of the pressure on bones caused by poor posture and lengthy periods of sitting at a desk.

More and more men these days are enjoying the benefits of yoga. Celebrity yoga enthusiasts include Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George, NBA All-Star MVP Kevin Garnett and NHL All-Star Sean Burke. Former professional wrestler Dallas Page even designed his own form of the exercise which he markets as “Yoga for Regular Guys.”

The concept of yoga is around 6000 years old, but it wasn’t until comparatively recently that it became popular in a purely exercise-based form. Most systems aimed at men are variations of Ashtanga, or as it’s often marketed, power yoga. These techniques combine the breathing and stretching of traditional yoga with strength-building calisthenic routines. There are also several sexual benefits of yoga, including the way improved blood flow can increase sexual arousal.

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Discussion Comments

By stoneMason — On Apr 02, 2014

Yoga is very beneficial for the body and for physical health, but the most important benefit of yoga is that it brings one closer to God. The meaning of yoga is "unity with God." The true goal of yoga, which involves not only physical postures, but also chanting, breathing and meditation, is to attain enlightenment. Yoga are a series of tools that one can use to control the mind, increase awareness and become closer to God. I think that many people are not aware of these benefits.

By bear78 — On Apr 01, 2014

@burcinc-- Well it really depends on the type of yoga. Power yoga for example is exercise. This is a combination of yoga postures and strength training. It burns calories and aids weight loss. It involves a lot of sweating. Hot yoga, which is done in a hot and damp room, has multiple benefits like weight loss, detox and relaxation of muscles.

So the benefits of yoga are many. But those who want to achieve a specific goal with yoga should select the best type of yoga for that goal.

By burcinc — On Apr 01, 2014

I don't really think of yoga as exercise. I think of it as stretching and relaxation. Especially when it's done in nature and in a quiet environment, it removes all the stress and tension from the body and mind. It's also excellent for the skeletal system and for circulation. So it promotes both physical and mental health.

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