No one disputes that yoga will make you loose and limber. But can bending, stretching, and twisting get you as fit as logging miles or swinging kettlebells? Definitely.
While some yoga classes
are indeed gentle and relaxing, the truth is that yoga can provide a heart-pounding, metabolism-stoking session as well as a muscle-toning, fat-frying routine. Rolling cardio, strength training, and flexibility into one workout—while also blasting stress and easing tension throughout your body—is what makes yoga the ultimate form of exercise.
Read on for more answers to common questions about yoga….
Q: What should I wear?
Most dynamic styles of yoga require fitted clothes that will move with you and not get in your way. Look for tights or straight-leg yoga pants
made with spandex. There are plenty of options for tops, and many of them have built-in bras. A fitted T-shirt works well, too. For more restorative (or “yin”) practices, you can opt for soft, non-constrictive clothes that aren’t quite as fitted.
Q: Will I lose weight?
A: Absolutely! A regular yoga practice combined with a healthy diet will help transform your body. Whether you want to lose 5, 10, or 15 pounds, or even more, yoga is a fabulous way to burn calories, tone muscles, and create a lean, sexy shape. The best fat-blasting yoga styles are Vinyasa and power flow, because they focus on strong holds and challenging postures aimed at burning calories.
Q: How often do I need to practice to see results?
A: It depends on your specific goals. My advice: Listen to your body. Yoga can be practiced safely every day. For beginners who want to jump-start their practice, I recommend sessions of anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes in length, three or four days a week. Stick to a routine in the beginning to become disciplined, and focus on a small group of postures so you can measure your results. Your yoga practice will constantly evolve—the goal shouldn’t be to perfect a posture and then move on. You’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment from simply being able to reach closer to your toes than ever before, to say nothing of the day you do your first headstand!
Q: Will yoga reduce stress? How do I breathe?
A: Definitely. A large part of the stress relief comes from breathing. “Ujjayi breath” is done by inhaling and exhaling through the nostrils with the mouth softly closed. This method is what allows you to focus when your mind starts to race or a posture becomes challenging. Focusing on both the breath and the posture is the secret to yoga’s amazing ability to eliminate stress. Taking just five minutes to stop and breathe can have a dramatic effect on the rest of your day. Your pulse slows, your mind softens, and you’re ready to move forward.