This is an interesting follow-up article to my post When Yoga Isn’t Yoga. This Forbes write up asserts that yoga practice at a faster pace is physical exercise. Yet to obtain the mental benefits it needs to be slowed down. It confirms that you need to be find the right balance: to push your edge yet be in your breath.
Yoga wasn’t exactly developed to be a workout, but it does seem to have a number of benefits for the body. Past studies have looked at its physical effects, not the least of which are muscle building, bone strengthening and flexibility. There’s even some evidence that it rivals aerobic exercise for heart health. Two new studies, published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, find that yoga can in fact burn calories—but mostly if it’s done at a faster clip. And as it turns out, there’s a difference in the number of calories burned in changing poses versus holding them.
In the other study, the electrical activity of the muscles was measured to determine how hard the muscles were working throughout a yoga routine (again, sun salutations). Here, the researchers were interested in whether muscles were more active when participants were holding a pose or moving between them, and again at the standard speed or a faster one. Again they found that muscles were more active in the faster routine. But they were also more active as people were moving between postures, rather than when they were holding them.
And though yoga may well help with the physical, it’s accrued at least as much evidence for helping with the mental. Another study this month found that people with major depressive disorder had significantly reduced depressive symptoms after being assigned to take 90-minute yoga classes that included breathing exercise, either three times a week or two times a week for 12 weeks. Those in the high-dose group (three times per week) had even lower scores on the depression measures than those in the low-dose group.