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Thread: Does Yoga Work?

  1. #1 Does Yoga Work? 
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    I've dabbled in yoga nearly all my life, but I've never been totally convinced of its claimed benefits. Iyengar's book 'Light on Yoga' appears to list 'cures' for just about any malady. Popular today is 'Iyengar Yoga', a watered down version of the postures from the original book. I used to go to classes in this discipline, but couldn't feel any real benefit to health. I think you are more likely to get an injury than anything else, so I think it's just a social event or a craze. On the other hand, if anything related to yoga can do something, I would say the '5 Tibetan Rites' (many Google sites) are very interesting, but I don't know if a proper scientific study has been made of these. All I can say is that I've been doing them for over 2 years now, and appear to have seen benefits. It might simply be that they shake the body in a way that the body is not normally accustomed to, a bit like jogging. I can't comment on Tai Chi or Kum Nye because I've never tried them.


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  3. #2  
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    Well, as you seem to already be aware, it depends on what you mean by "work." It's really great for muscle building... the smaller balance related muscles, especially... and it helps with circulation and flexibility. These are all good things and help to alleviate stress and tension, which are both bad things. So, overall the practice of yoga is quite beneficial.

    However, I don't think any of the strange claims that sound like woo and gibberish are all that merit-based. I think that's a lot of hooey and that people should learn to say what they mean more precisely. In sum, many of the claims are based around a rhetorical short-hand because the people making them lack the technical knowledge to say something which is valid...

    Instead of saying, "It helps in muscle elasticity, vascular generation, and a decrease in cortisol," they say something retarded like "It opens up your 4th chakra and causes your aura to go from red to purple." When you drill down to details, you realize both are saying similar things, but one sounds idiotic and lacks credibility while the other is reasonable and testable. My sense is that it's mostly because people lack the education and vocabulary to discuss it properly, and much of what they say is hogwash... However, yoga itself is rather beneficial both physically and mentally for a number of reasons.


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    iNow is right.

    Yoga combines exercise of a type with relaxation. Both are beneficial, but that is as far as the benefits go.

    I have always said that a brisk walk in an environment conducive to serenity is as good as yoga, (for overall fitness and good for the 'soul'), and and probably better in some ways. Personally, I make sure I walk by the sea at least three times a week. Good for my fitness, and stress relieving.

    However, the key to exercise is simply to do it. It really does not matter much what exercise you choose to do. You can brisk walk, jog, pump iron, do yoga, pilates, or whatever you prefer. The key is to do it. Each exercise has specific benefits, but overall, every exercise is good. Exercise is a lifelong commitment, and whatever you can maintain for life is what you should do.

    If that happens to be yoga, that is great. Just don't be fooled by extravagent claims.
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  5. #4  
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    I think the placebo effect makes you think that some physical discipline is good for you, to heal your body and mind. But the point I'm trying to make is among all these dubious miracle cures there may actually be one that is considerably more effective than the others, and that's the Tibetan Rites. You can do them in under 10 minutes, and that's all you need for the day. I only need 6 minutes for the full cycle. The only caveats are to build up slowly to the doing the full cycle, not to exceed the cycle, and follow the instructions to avoid injury.
    You may conclude that the chakras really do exist, and possible benefits include increased energy, less drowsiness and depression, suppleness, improved eyesight and relief from minor ailments. See the websites for a complete list. I really wish I had known about these 20 years ago.
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  6. #5  
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    I am doing Yoga since last ten years and I am getting much benefits of it.I think it is the best way to increase strength and internal energy.
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    All exercise is good, and all proponents of a particular exercise rgiment are prone to telling people that their's is the best - for a range of reasons.

    The real best exercise is to join a gym, hire a personal trainer, and follow a series of exercises carefully designed to fully exercise every part of your body. No simple set of exercises can match this, and definitely nothing that takes only 6 minutes. Normally, government recommendations run to between 30 and 60 minutes formal exercise per day for maximum health benefits. All my studies and reading tells me that is about correct.

    However, as I said before, the main thing is simply to make sure you get enough regular exercise. If you don't want to join a gym, or don't feel you can keep up such a disciplined set of exercises for long, then find something you can.

    The key is to do an average of at least 30 minutes per day, for the rest of your life! Find an exercise regimen that you are happy with, so that you will maintain that discipline. If it is yoga, fine. Just do not suggest 'magical' properties. On a science forum, where people actually can think rationally and logically, that kind of BS will not be believed. Yoga is just another type of exercise.
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  9. #8  
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    Thanks for that, as I didn't know anything about heart rate variability. Another post on this section confirms that a 3 minute burst is good. However, I believe that no exercise jolts the system quite like the Tibetan Rites because it starts with a wild spinning exercise, guaranteed to shake up anybody, whether super fit or not. They progress to an awkward contraction exercise, followed by a backbending one. They conclude with an energetic performance of the table posture and finally the up and down dog exercise, both of which will get you panting like a dog. At the end there is a strange feeling of being energised, so better to do them in the morning rather than at night. Compare this with the gym jogging which drains the body of its energy.
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  10. #9  
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    To gattaca and ox

    This is the kind of thing that annoys the hell out of me. I have no doubt that yoga improves heart function. But so does jogging, swimming, brisk walking, pumping iron, and every other form of solid exercise.

    Every kind of exercise has its proponents who say it is the best. None of them have proper scientific evidence. It all boils down to subjective opinion, and sometimes superstition and dogma.

    Please do not go about saying that everyone has to do yoga. You will do people a much greater service by telling people that all exercise is good, and people should do whatever suits them best as individuals. The key thing is to do exercise, and do it regularly for life. To achieve that, the exercise chosen has to be one that suits the person who is doing it. And the best way to achieve that is for the individual to choose their own system.
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  11. #10  
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    Few people will jog and pump iron all their life, whereas an advantage that yoga has is that you don't have to be fit in the first place. There are postures, breathing exercises and meditations that just about anyone can do, at any age. Jogging, for instance tends to stiffen up the body. Yoga helps keep it supple. Jogging is more physical than mental. Yoga is a mind and body practice, if done correctly. People have been known to drop dead while jogging. (3 in one race a few years ago). Try Sarvangasana, the shoulder stand. It's a source of energy. Try jogging, and your energy will drain. I've never found jogging to be relaxing, but I have with yoga, and in a stressed out world, it's a good discipline.
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  12. #11  
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    I admit that jogging and other exercises have their downsides. However, so does yoga. Yoga is a gentle way of exercising, and as a result, never achieves the high degree of fitness that can be achieved with other exercises. No person who practices just yoga ever won the Mr. Olympia contest, or even any single olympic event. Yoga is good. Sure. However, it is, in its own way, limited. So are all other exercises.

    If you want an exercise program that pretty much does everything, you need to combine them. So along with your yoga, you will do jogging or swimming, and pumping iron. Or some similar combination. The best exercise program of the lot is to spend money, join a gym, and hire a personal trainer, who will modify your exercise program so as to stretch every tendon, exercise every muscle, and give your heart and lungs a good work out. However, not everyone has the money or the patience to do that. I certainly don't. Thus, it is best to find an exercise system that works for you, the individual.

    You need to beware the dogma. Your statement about mind and body reveals that you are at least part way down the road to swallowing the B.S. about yoga. There is nothing particularly mind developing about yoga that cannot be achieved with other exercises. Yoga has been linked to Indian religions, and the religious frequently make claims that cannot stand up to scientific scrutiny. You need to be aware of that.
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  13. #12  
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    Skeptic;
    I started off criticizing yoga, now it seems I am defending it.
    There are many flavours of yoga, and my understanding of some of them is:
    Indian - Hatha yoga (Hinduisim). Yoga here means union with God.
    Chinese - Tai Chi (Taoism).
    Tibetan - esoteric Buddhist tradition with Milarespa as its great saint.
    Western - magic of the Qabbalah, popularised by Crowley and others.
    Popular - floor mat exercises in order to keep supple, keep fit and lose weight etc.
    I think that anyone can do some form of yoga, irrespective of age, but realistically not everyone can go jogging. So in that sense yoga can be a universal discipline; jogging is not. Jogging cannot keep the body supple and its fitness level is not easy to maintain. As you grow older, yoga is a better bet. I know people in their nineties who never exercise, or do yoga for that matter, so much of it is in the genes. Like you point out, having a personal trainer is expensive. Yoga is free.
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  14. #13  
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    There is no need to defend yoga, since I am not attacking it. I am saying that it is a valuable form of exercise. The only thing I am attacking is the dogma often associated with an excessive enthusiasm.

    The key thing related to exercise and health is simply : DO IT!!

    If yoga is your thing. Fine. If jogging is your thing. Equally fine.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The key thing related to exercise and health is simply : DO IT!!
    Do what, exactly? I struggle to define a perfect exercise routine. Let's assume that you are fit to exercise, have time on your hands, but don't have access to a gym or swimming pool, as the nearest one is an hour or more away. You have jogging shoes, a bicycle and a mat for yoga or aerobics. What proportions do you do for peak fitness? For example, is jogging 4 miles twice as beneficial as doing 2 miles?
    One thing I've not tried is a duathlon, but this sounds interesting: Jog 2 miles, then cycle 20 miles, then jog a further 2 miles, all in the space of 3 hours. Later in the day do some yoga stretching exercises for about 15 minutes. Do this once a week.
    What do you think?
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    There are many flavours of yoga, and my understanding of some of them is:
    Indian - Hatha yoga (Hinduisim). Yoga here means union with God.
    Chinese - Tai Chi (Taoism).
    Tibetan - esoteric Buddhist tradition with Milarespa as its great saint.
    Western - magic of the Qabbalah, popularised by Crowley and others.
    Popular - floor mat exercises in order to keep supple, keep fit and lose weight etc.
    I am unfamiliar with the others, but Tai Chi is not at all related to yoga. It was originally a combative form that has recently been altered to mimic spiritual exercises. Make no mistake, any sort of energy "amplifying" or spiritual properties garnered from yoga are purely in your head. If yoga changes your attitude for the better, great but you need not blame mysticism for beneficial results.

    For the purposes of stretching, it is unnecessary to hold yoga poses for longer than 30 seconds. A study at the University of Arkansas showed that stretches lasting 30 seconds offered more benefit than those lasting 15 seconds. Stretches lasting 60 seconds offered no benefit over those lasting 30, in subjects under 40 years old. Here's a link with citations: http://www.thefactsaboutfitness.com/...tretchtime.htm
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  17. #16  
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    To Ox

    Re the perfect exercise.

    Here in New Zealand, the official recommendation is a minimum of 30 minutes per day on average, exercising at such a rate to significantly raise both breathing rate and heart beat rate.

    As I said before, the perfect exercise is to use a gym and a personal trainer to design and update an exercise regimen to exercise the entire body. However, most of us cannot do that.

    The most important thing, though, is not to have the perfect regimen, but simply to make sure we get our 30 minutes per day on average. For example : brisk walking is an excellent exercise, if not as 'perfect' as the gym plus personal trainer. When I say DO IT!!, I mean that getting the basic exercise is the most important factor - not hanging out for the perfect regimen.
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    Yes yoga work well for the physical fitness and mental health.
    It not only improve the fitness level, stamina, flexibility, and body strength but also help to deal with the stress, depression, and anxiety.

    adamprowse weight loss
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  19. #18  
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    My wife loves yoga. She says it is relaxing, fun, stretches her out, and strengthens her muscles. Seeing as how our mental well-being can often affect our physical health, if someone is getting these benefits, I would say yoga is "working". It's not a cure for the common cold or anything, but it might make you feel better overall.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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  20. #19  
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    I would also like to know if you think Tai Chi works. This is something I've never done. I expressed some interest once but I was told it was only for old people. Might fall into that bracket now.
    As for yoga, of late I've been trying to put aside an hour to perform as many postures as possible of varying difficulties. I'm up to about 80 when counting the variations. This isn't really yoga I know but I find it far more satisfying than the gym. It costs me nothing and I don't need to travel. The gym used to stiffen my body, whereas yoga loosens it. Forget the movies because I don't think you can be both supple and strong. There was an olympic gold medal winning decathlete who later complained that he couldn't even touch his toes.
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  21. #20  
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    You don't think you can be both supple and strong? What makes you say that? Check this woman out and tell me she isn't supple and strong Top 10 Yoga Postures for Strength | Kino MacGregor And there are plenty of yoga practitioners like her.
    What do you mean does Tai Chi work though? What do you want it to do? Different exercise accomplishes different things you have to decide what you want from it. Do you want to be an endurance athlete or a body builder or supple or do you just want to stay healthy going into old age? If its the latter you don't have to do any exercise specifically you just have to make sure you are moving around for the majority of the day and not sitting on your backside.
    "And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh" Nietzsche.
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  22. #21  
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    I do yoga (the type shown in LuciDreaming's link) and it definitely has physical benefits.

    However, I can't stand when people make nonsensical, pseudoscientific claims about yoga. I think that treating it like some kind of miracle cure-all turns off people who would benefit from it.<br>

    Doing a particular pose will not clear up your skin condition, lower your blood sugar, improve your eyesight or cure your impotence. While yoga, like all exercise, will make you feel good, it will not cure your depression after you lose your job, your spouse leaves you, your dog dies and your house burns down.

    And there is the ridiculous "medical advice" handed down through the generations that has had no input at all from modern medicine, for example, that women shouldn't go upside down when they have their periods because the menstrual blood fall back into the uterus - so why isn't there a risk of urine falling from the bladder back into the kidneys?

    Fortunately, I have a yoga teacher who is a former athlete and focuses on the exercise aspect.

    Regarding tai chi, as with yoga, it depends on what kind of tai chi you use. My husband has taught tai chi. it is a martial art that is used to cause serious injury. It can also be taught in a watered-down form (think of old people in the park) for increasing flexibility without any strengthening components.<br>

    Martial arts study (my husband taught me a little bit of kung fu) has a strong psychological as well as a physical component. A large part of it involves being able to predict how your opponent will react, and that gives you an advantage on top of physical strength or flexibility. Even if you don't ever expect to use it in a fight, it gives you an insight into human nature that can help you in other environments.

    Disciplines like yoga and martial arts, which combine both strength and flexibility training, have an advantage over other forms of exercise because you don't have to worry about stretching after. In yoga, you avoid repetitive motion injuries because you stretch frequently throughout the practice, and you alternate opposing muscle groups. For example, you may follow a backbend with a forward bend, a lunge with a hamstring stretch or a pushup with a shoulder stretch. In forms of yoga where you follow a set sequence, the sequences are set up like this. Many athletes turn to yoga after they have suffered injuries.
    Last edited by Alec Bing; February 1st, 2014 at 08:58 AM.
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