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Yoga Is About Stress Reduction

People are reaping some unexpected benefits from the ancient practice of yoga. In yoga, one focuses on breathing, and therein lays its healing effects. Breathing itself is extra-ordinarily healing on a physical and emotional level. Deep breathing helps by oxygenating the blood, lowering blood pressure, and diminishing the stress response.

Today yoga is mostly about stress reduction and is a form of exercise that is gentler on the body. There is also a spiritual aspects to yoga; people feel they need a whole-body approach to health and exercise.

Extreme Yoga - New Twists on an Ancient Practice

Sauna-style hot, in a room heated past 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It's supposed to make the muscles more flexible, thereby reducing the possibility of damaging muscles. But any type of exercise in 100-degree heat is difficult on the body. If you're 20 or 30 you can probably do it, but if you have an undisclosed cardiovascular disease it can be dangerous.

Extreme yoga appeals to some because "it makes you sweat, makes you hurt. It's the American mentality - no pain no gain."

Ashtanga yoga
Ashtanga is another extreme style of yoga and has been made popular by stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, and Sting. It's a very demanding series of asansas (postures). It has many levels, and it gets you out of breath. It's not an easy style to practice.
Traditional yoga
Traditional yoga can give athletes an edge to their sport, as golfers, distance runners, even football players are learning, says Rebecca Laney, who runs the Center for Yoga and Health in the small college town of Clinton, Mississippi. "I think the real aggressive athletes are always looking for the latest thing," she asserts. Laney adds that yoga develops what's called proprioception, or an awareness of where your body is in space and time. It's an awareness of movement, weight distribution, and posture. Developing such a sense can help athletes more clearly feel what they're doing, she says.

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