Published On May 17, 2013 | May/June 2013


A day keeps the doctor away

Here’s a reminder of how yoga can benefit our bodies in so many ways.


Some practice yoga for religious or spiritual reasons. Some use it strictly as an exercising method. Some call it a necessity in your daily exercise routine. Whichever motivation people may have, yoga has become a popular trend around the country, and Austin is no stranger to this movement either. Within the past few years, the yoga community in central Austin has grown tremendously, according to the establishment dates of many popular studios. So how as yoga gained so much popularity, and how has it improved our lifestyle?

Yoga was born in India more than 5,000 years ago during the period of India’s “Golden Age” that was best known for peace and blessings. It is believed to have started for seekers of the “Eternal Truth,” as a spiritual mind strengthening movement.

So if yoga started as a spiritual and mind exercise, you may be wondering how exactly yoga has benefited practitioners physically. General health benefits of yoga include strengthened core, increase in flexibility, better posture, and enhanced concentration, according to Web MD. Many yoga practices use meditation technique to “clear your mind” and relax while focusing completely on breathing and being mindful of your body. Yoga also helps athletes in various ways by helping them understand their bodies, according to Women’s Health magazine. You get to learn where your body is weak, strong, tight, or flexible, which will be helpful for enhancing your overall performance.

There are many types of yoga that are popular in the United States, each focusing on difference aspects of the movements. The most widely practiced styles include: Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyengar, and Bikram.

Hatha & Vinyasa

Hatha and Vinyasa are slow-paced, and they focus on breathing and meditating. It mainly revolves around sun salutation, a series of 12 breath-synchronized poses. They are recommended widely for beginners to be familiarized with basic poses and movements. Ashtanga yoga is  known to be more suited for anyone who’d consider themselves in the intermediate level, since it focuses on eight specific limbs with fast-paced movements with push-ups and lunges. It’s a form of power yoga, known to help with weight loss and strengthening.


Iyengar yoga was invented by a world-renowned yoga practitioner, Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar.  According to Austin’s clear Spring studio, which specializes completely on Iyengar yoga, this method enables recovery from body aches and pains that come from incorrect postures, habits, stress and injury. Iyengar works on body alignment that disciplines “internalization of the senses, steadiness of concentration, subtlety of understanding, and the discipline of an ethical practice.”

Bikram (Hot Yoga)

Bikram, as you may already know, is popularized as hot yoga- practiced in a 95 to a 100 degree room. It’s purpose is to flush toxins from your body while deeply stretching and loosening your muscles. Of course, it includes intense sweating and breathing exercises that might not be best fit for everyone.

It is important to try out all the different styles of yoga and find the one that fits you best, according to the type and pattern of the body.

Despite the abundant health benefits of yoga, it’s also important to weigh the risks before jumping into the exercise. The best advice would be to talk to your doctor and yoga instructor if you have specific health problems or physical concerns. Some general risks and injuries involve straining and overstretching of the neck, shoulders, spine, knees and wrists, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Also, certain poses can increase risks of injury if you have high or low blood pressure, back problems, serious osteoporosis, and obesity. A report from KVUE Austin also notes recently that men are more prone to serious yoga injuries, especially in the joints, because they tend to practice it more intensely with a competitive edge.

Yoga Scene in Austin

How can you get more involved with yoga in Austin? You can start off with visiting the vast number of yoga studios that are available in the city and choosing the right one for you. In addition to many Western yoga studios, there are other that offer “specialty” yoga. One example would be Antigravity Austin. It strictly offers AntiGravity® yoga, which mingles artistic sports and aerial arts with the consciousness training of yoga. This form of yoga is practiced while you are literally hanging from the ceiling with hammocks, three feet off the ground.

Lastly, this one’s for all the enthusiasts: the 2013 Austin Yoga Conference will be held on May 11-12 at the Palmer Events Center, where you can attend workshops and classes with experts.


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