Strike a Pose
What are the real - and not so real - benefits of yoga?
Rich Weil, MEd, CDE
Claim: Yoga tones muscles and increases flexibility,
strength, and stamina.
Science says: Yoga increases flexibility, strength, and
stamina, but no studies show that it tones muscles. Still, tone is partially a
function of nervous system stimulation of the muscle; any
physical activity, done repeatedly, produces muscle tone.
Claim: Yoga reduces stress and tension.
Science says: It's true! Studies show both a reduction
in perceived stress and a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate
Claim: The twisting postures in yoga release harmful
toxins from internal organs and boost the immune system.
Science says: No studies could be found to bolster such
claims. There is some evidence showing that yoga postures may help
reduce pain and inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis and
Claim: Yoga aids weight loss.
Science says: Any physical activity, coupled with
controlled eating, aids weight loss. Different yoga methods -- vinyasa,
hatha, and kundalini, to name a few -- are practiced at different speeds
and strength levels, burning calories at different rates.