Apr 12, 2010

Health Benefits: YOGA vs GYM

The most common question I am repeatedly asked is, “Why should I do yoga?”

On the surface this simple questions seems as though it would generate a clear response that would only take a moment of your time, however; yoga is so personalized that the answer, just like people, can be very complex. My most direct response has always been, “Because there is no equal”, but that is only the beginning.

The benefits of yoga are so vast, so diverse, so compound, that there simply is no easy answer to ‘why’. Are you trying to be more healthy, are you an athlete, a beginner, are you nursing an injury, are you trying to lose weight, relieve stress, find community? Yoga satisfies all those and more, dare I say almost everything.

To be more specific I’ll ask what their current means of exercise is. 9 times out of 10 the answer is “the gym”. I have plenty of personal opinions about what I call ‘McFitness’ offerings from your local health club but I’ll save those for another day.

For this purpose I’ll throw up a quick and fun little comparison:

YOGA                                                                           GYM
*Parasympathetic Nervous System dominates                 *Sympathetic Nervous System dominates
*Subcortical regions of the brain dominates                     *Cortical regions of the brain dominates
*Controled dynamic movements                                     *Rapid forceful movements
*Increased muscle tone                                                  *Increased muscle tension
*Low risk of injuring, prevents future injury                     *Higher risk of injury, causes future injury
*Energizing (breathing is controlled)                                *Fatiguing (breathing is taxed)
*Balanced activity of opposing muscle groups                 *Imbalanced activity of opposing groups
*Noncompetitive, process-oriented                                *Competitive, goal-oriented
*Awareness is internal                                                    *Awareness is external
*Limitless possibilities for growth                                    *Plateau with high boredom factor

bottom line, yoga is science that has been practiced for thousands of years. The medical community has gathered substantial supporting evidence on the health benefits of yoga. ( 77 Health Benefits of Yoga ) Most importantly, remember to keep your preferred form of exercise well balanced and the results will never disappoint! See ya in class!