Yoga for the Body and Mind – Harvard Health

Monkeypox: An unfamiliar virus spreading fast — sound familiar?
Ring vaccination might help curtail monkeypox outbreaks
The plant milk shake-up: Pea and pistachio join oat and almond
Millions rely on wheelchairs for mobility, but repair delays are hurting users
Waist trainers: What happens when you uncinch?
Preventing C. diff in and out of the hospital
Managing weight gain from psychiatric medications
Struggling to sleep? Your heart may pay the price
Inflammatory bowel disease and family planning: What you need to know
Can a vegan diet treat rheumatoid arthritis?
With all the hype about yoga, there has to be a lot more to it than sitting cross-legged and contorting your body in weird poses. And there is much more. With over 800 styles of yoga described, how can you find one that you might like?
Rooted in Indian philosophy, yoga is an ancient method of relaxation and regarded by many as a spiritual experience. However, in the last five years yoga has become ubiquitous, with independent studios sprouting everywhere and fitness centers incorporating yoga classes into their group instruction curriculum. Although some people still view yoga as a practice reserved for spiritual seekers looking for inner peace, yoga is rapidly being embraced by many Americans as an alternative or additional way to increase strength, endurance and body tone.
In fact, today many fitness experts recognize yoga as valuable part of functional training. Functional training (also called functional exercise) has become a buzz word in the fitness industry, used in programs for competitive athletes as well as recreational exercisers. Functional training focuses on endurance, strength and coordination to allow individuals to maximize performance of everyday tasks.
In a weight-training routine, incorporating deadlifts (a great exercise to strengthen the back and thigh muscles) can help to decrease the likelihood of injury and strain in a simple movement like bending over to tie your shoe. Similarly, yoga can functionally develop the body by improving the body’s ability to interpret and respond to nerve signals sent back and forth between the muscles and the brain. The increased connectedness of mind, nerves, and muscles results in more fluid body motions and quicker adjustments to unexpected situations like tripping over a curb.
Yoga Basics
Yoga practice is commonly broken down into different postures or asanas. The different postures are guided by breath and focus on using core strength (mula bandha) to move energy (prana) through the body. Because there are many different schools of yoga, it can be challenging to nail down which discipline is right for you. Below is a simple guide to the different branches of yoga.
Most yoga classes range from 60 to 90 minutes long.
With so many styles of yoga, and its growing popularity, fitness centers and independent studios have begun to group yoga disciplines. For example you might attend a class called restorative yoga or athletic yoga. Broad terms are used to help students relate to the practice and get a general sense of the flow of the class. You may also encounter hybrid fitness classes that incorporate yoga techniques, such as yogalates (a combination of yoga and pilates), spin yoga (a class of half cycling and half yoga), and kids’ yoga (promoting movement, physical expression and inner spirit for kids).
Yoga can be a great vehicle for positive physical and mental transformation. Ultimately, trial and error is the best way to determine which style of yoga is right for you. Trying different classes and different teachers can help you find one that meets your needs.
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Mind & Mood
Mind & Mood
Mind & Mood
Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!
© 2022 by The President and Fellows of Harvard College
Do not sell my personal information | Privacy Policy
Thanks for visiting. Don’t miss your FREE gift.
The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School
Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.
Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School
Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss…from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.
BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness
Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.
Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.


2 thoughts on “Yoga for the Body and Mind – Harvard Health”

  1. I found your weblog website on google and examine a number of of your early posts. Proceed to maintain up the superb operate. I simply extra up your RSS feed to my MSN Information Reader. In search of ahead to reading extra from you afterward!…


Leave a Comment