Yoga Fitness & Weight Loss Program
Yoga is defined as a traditional physical discipline of the body and mind. Yoga originated over 3,000 years ago in India and has grown increasingly popular in not only the United States, but throughout the world as well. Requiring little to no equipment, yoga offers numerous physical and mental health benefits, and is not as physically demanding as other exercises types.
Regularly performing a yoga fitness and weight loss program will increase overall muscular strength, improve muscular endurance and stamina, improve coordination, balance and flexibility, calm the mind, and unify the mind-body connection. There are several types of yoga, with many styles contained under each type.
For instance, several styles of yoga involve chanting while others place a higher emphasis on spirituality. However, there are several common aspects that are associated with all types and styles of yoga. All yoga types and styles include poses that require balance and improve flexibility, increase structural strength, emphasize proper breathing techniques, promote a mind-body connection, and calm and center the mind.
The purpose of proper breathing, known as Pranayama, is to increase the oxygen content in the blood and in the brain, and to control Prana (the vital life energy of the body). Pranayama yoga is performed in unison with Asanas (the actual poses). The unification of these two Yogic Principles, Pranayama and Asanas, are considered the highest form of purification and self discipline for both the mind and the body.
The importance of adding a yoga exercise routine to your daily lifestyle cannot be overstated.
Types of Movements
While it is true that practicing yoga involves performing physical movements and maintaining specific positions, yoga heavily focuses on proper breathing techniques and opening and forming a connection between the mind and the body. Spirituality plays a large part when performing yoga.
From a physical aspect, yoga is an exercise type that combines movements, or series of movements, that stretch all soft tissue and require muscular strength and flexibility to maintain poses and sequences of poses.
The instructor will typically begin the exercise session with a series of warm-up poses designed to increase blood and oxygen flow throughout the entire body. In many cases, the instructor will perform a series of movements known as Sun Salutations as the warm-up sequence of movements.
Thereafter, the instructor will focus on performing specific poses that exercise and relax the various parts of the body. Relaxation and calming exercises are typically performed at the end of each session.
Yoga consists of many types and styles of exercise routines, including Ashtanga yoga, a fast-paced workout that improves strength, increases lean muscle mass and builds stamina and flexibility. Individuals must move quickly during this style of yoga and focus on their breathing at the same time. Another type of yoga is Bikram, which is commonly known as “hot yoga.” The exercise rooms are typically heated to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, designed to increase stamina and endurance while promoting internal cleansing.
Gentle yoga includes movements designed to improve flexibility and promote deep breathing through the performance of slow stretches. Kundalini yoga utilizes various poses and chanting to allow the body to awaken its life energy. Iyengar yoga focuses on skeletal alignment, and the movements must be executed in a precise manner.
Restorative yoga is an ideal yoga workout designed to relax the body by maintaining various poses for an extended period of time. Restorative yoga promotes poses that are relaxing and require focus to ensure that the posture of the pose is correct. Lastly, Vinyasa/Power yoga is an active yoga style, similar to Ashtanga, and is one of the most popular yoga types in the United States. Ashtanga yoga promotes improvements in balance and flexibility, increases in cardiovascular endurance and stamina, and improvements in muscular strength, tone and definition.
Performing a yoga fitness routine targets all major muscle groups and utilizes the individual’s body weight and gravity as resistance. Yoga is an excellent exercise type for elongating soft tissue, increasing the oxygen content in the blood, promoting increased blood flow throughout the entire body, and toning and sculpting the body through light strength training poses and sequences.
In addition, many of the poses and movements performed in a yoga exercise session focus on core development. The lower back, upper and lower abdominals, obliques and gluteal muscles receive a reasonable workout that will promote safe and effective weight loss.
Many of the types and styles of yoga are not intended to achieve an aerobic effect. In other words, they do not elevate the heart rate to its target heart rate and maintain that level for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes. Without accomplishing this, an aerobic effect cannot be achieved. However, performing a yoga exercise routine with regularity will burn a reasonable number of calories and promote effective weight.
For individuals that would like to increase their rate of weight loss, consider adding an aerobic activity like jogging, running, biking, swimming or aerobic classes to your daily exercise routine. To further promote weight loss, consider consuming a highly nutritional, low-calorie, whole food diet. You will increase your caloric expenditure through regularly performing your yoga routine and decrease your caloric intake through a healthy and nutritious diet. This approach will safely and effectively increase the rate at which you lose excess body weight.
There are very few pieces of equipment that are required to successfully perform a yoga exercise routine. However, there are a few items to consider. For instance, a yoga mat is recommended as many of the poses and movements will be performed as ground exercises.
A yoga block is ideal for individuals that may need additional support when performing several of the stretching poses that may be initially too difficult to perform.
In addition, a yoga strap or belt is beneficial when performing several of the hamstrings stretching poses, and will allow you to increase your flexibility at a faster rate.
Always remember to wear either stretchable tight-fitting clothes or loose-fitting clothes, as virtually all yoga types and styles promote flexibility. When performing yoga outside, clothing that wicks sweat away from the body is recommended. Finally, always remember to bring a water bottle to ensure that you remain adequately hydrated.
There are countless benefits, both physical and mental, that are achieved through performing a yoga routine with regularity. From a physical perspective, all major muscle groups are exercised, including the core area. This results in improvements in muscular strength, mass and tone.
From a flexibility perspective, virtually all yoga types and styles focus on improving flexibility of all soft tissue while increasing the range of motion for each joint. For this reason, yoga may be an excellent choice for individuals that have suffered an injury or have some form of debilitating condition.
Most yoga types and styles, to a varying degree, also improve cardiovascular endurance and stamina. Not only is this beneficial to the health of your heart, but everyday tasks and chores become easier to perform as well.
Virtually all yoga types and styles promote a mind-body connection and a centering of the mind. The result is a greater sense of well-being, improved focus and clarity, and increases in concentration. By calming the mind, the body achieves a greater balance and synergy in the various functions it performs, including decreases in blood pressure, decreases in resting heart rate, improvements in the quality of sleep and more.
Private and Public Yoga Instruction
Before beginning one of the various types and styles of yoga, make sure to spend time learning about each of them. Once you have learned the differences between the various forms of yoga, and the physical and mental benefits associated with each, compare them to your personal fitness goals to determine which type will best facilitate the achievement of your goals. In addition, you will want to consider where the yoga class is held, what days and times the class is offered, and the cost of enrollment.
Many yoga instructors that offer private classes. Regardless of whether instruction is offered privately or publicly, the Yoga Alliance offers a yoga certification for instructors which requires 200 hours of training in yoga. Spending the time to locate instructors that have acquired this certification is an excellent way to find a highly qualified yoga instructor.
Another approach is to purchase at-home yoga fitness programs on DVD or VHS. Purchasing yoga fitness programs on DVD or VHS will allow you the flexibility to perform your yoga exercise routine in the comfort of your own home, and on the days and times that are convenient for you.
Regularly performing a yoga fitness routine will promote safe and effective weight loss and will provide your body, mind and spirit with an excellent workout experience. In fact, yoga is one of the most popular exercise types today, and for good reason.
Yoga provides the body with a low-impact form of exercise that will promote improvements in muscular strength and lean muscle mass, increases in cardiovascular endurance and stamina, increases in balance, coordination and flexibility, and a greater sense of mental well-being, stability and calmness.
In addition, yoga is ideal for individuals that have suffered an injury or have some form of debilitating disease or condition. Yoga can be practiced by virtually all age groups as well. By simply setting aside 3 to 5 hours per week to participate in a yoga fitness program, you will be sure to provide your mind, body and spirit with the nourishment that it requires to live a long, healthy, fit and stable life.