As a yoga instructor, new students often ask me how often they need to do yoga to reap the benefits. As with any activity, you’ll see more benefit and improvement in your skills the more you practice (after all, there’s a reason they call it a yoga practice), but I understand the concerns behind their question. We are a time-starved society, and those of us who are lucky enough to find the time to workout have a choice to make with that precious hour or so: watch the calorie counter as we labor away on the elliptical or treadmill at the gym, or spend at least an hour and (much more money) at a yoga studio. Of course, there’s always the at home practice, meditation and all that, but let’s get real. Connecting with the breath in that Warrior 2 becomes far less joyful when there’s a screaming kid in the next room and dog staring you in the face while you’re in Downward Facing Dog.
Just as I did, many of my yoga students came to yoga because of a lack of joy in other forms of exercise, or a realization that while fit, they were stiff, sore, and not all that relaxed or happy after a workout. But again, there’s that nagging issue of time and money, and who wants to hit the gym, and then the studio, even if we could? That’s why I was very excited to read of a recent yoga study referred to in Rodale around the benefits of yoga–especially as it stands up to other forms of exercise. The piece describes findings of researchers at the University of Maryland School of Nursing who conducted a comparative analysis of 81 studies that examined yoga’s benefits, and the health benefits of aerobic exercise. The findings indicated, that especially for stress control, yoga has some very real weight-loss benefits, and is not just a way to feel “stretched” or “relaxed.” Namaste to that.