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- Basics
- Upside
- Downside
- Is it for You?
- Tips
- Our Fitness Expert Says
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Reviewed By:
Liz Neporent, MA

Yoga Basics

YogaYoga is an exercise system that consists of a series of poses, postures and positions. The practice of yoga began in India about 5,000 years ago to promote union of mind, body and spirit.

Yoga is a physical and spiritual practice with roots in ancient India but with relevance to daily life in modern times. The typical workout blends strength, flexibility and body awareness with a series of poses, postures and positions called “asanas”.

While there are many forms of yoga, most yoga newbies find Hatha the best school of yoga to start with. It includes all of the basic yoga moves and breathing exercises, but leaves out the spiritual aspects of some other forms. There are also many different styles of Hatha yoga, some more meditative, some more physically vigorous.

One of the most appealing aspects of yoga is its ability to promote flexibility and relaxation. Most gyms offer classes or you can check your phone book for a local yoga studio. Most places offer classes in a variety of skill levels and times throughout the week. If classes aren’t your thing, check out a yoga DVD, TV program or book to help guide you through a routine.

Yoga can be practiced to enhance overall health, to improve balance, to heal and prevent injuries, to strengthen muscles and to open the body for meditation. Yoga's increasing popularity is proof that many people value an exercise system that engages the mind, body and spirit in equal measure. If you've never done yoga before, give it a try and see what it can do for you.

Upside of Yoga

  • Most people begin to see and feel improvements in their flexibility, strength and stress levels after only a few classes.

  • Yoga energizes your body and the associated meditation can help calm your mind.

  • Yoga can be done nearly anywhere, just remember to pack your mat on your next business trip.

  • You need very little equipment. A basic class typically runs $5-$20 a session.

  • A sense of camaraderie can develop among students taking the same class. You and your yoga buddies will gently encourage each other.

  • When you master proper positioning, it feels great and then you’ll feel more comfortable doing yoga at home on your own.

Downside of Yoga

  • If flexibility isn't your strong suit, you need yoga, but trying to get into and out of some of the asanas may be frustrating.

  • Yoga has its own terminology and you may feel as if you're trying to learn a foreign language as well as get your body into shape.

  • Large classes mean less individual instruction from the teacher so you may not use the right technique for the best, most comfortable results.

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Review Date: 11-08-2007

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