Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reading The Benefits of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards

I've been reading, The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards, by William Broad, and have found it utterly fascinating! I am only 1/3 of the way through it, but it is really engrossing. William Broad has taken a look at all the "claims" that yoga has made over the decades and has held them up to scientific studies.  His research has been quite diverse covering "not-so-scientific" claims, scientific claims with a slant (researchers were yogis themselves, and pure scientific studies with all the parameters that are included in sound, research-based studies. (I am no science geek, and my terminology may be way off, so if you're interested, pick up the book for a more sophisticated explanation.)

But what I've come away with is a more down-to-earth opinion of it all. Mr. Broad challenges the claims that the yoga community has made: One needs no other exercise than yoga. One of yoga's claims say that yoga is all you need for a complete exercise regimen. The claims have included that it is also an excellent cardio-vascular workout as well.

According to the science behind it, it is not. However, it does rank one of the best exercises for flexibility, social, emotional, and spiritual health, and reduces depression, pain, and cholesterol within the body. (I am only briefly touching on the benefits.)

But here's my question? WHY does yoga have to fit the bill for everything? WHY? Don't we need a variety of exercise to complete our cross-training needs? I take such claims with a grain of salt. In fact, I wish I had more time (or made more time) to have a more diversified workout, rather than yoga only.

To me, making these sorts of claims automatically holds oneself up to scrutiny. For example, fad diets that claim they are the perfect way to lose weight and keep it off, I feel, are short sighted. We need moderation in all types of foods, exercise, and medicines that we use. To me that just makes sense.

I really respect the way Willam Broad broaches this topic. He does so very respectfully and with humility. He, by the way, is a yogi himself! That to me is even more impressive. Having an open mind when doing or trying anything new, I think, is the safest way all the way around.

1 comment:

Jen said...

This book sounds really interesting! I love the concept. I'm glad it is putting research behind what is said about yoga. I agree that balance in life is crucial. Yoga does seem to beneficial but I can see how doing other exercise or even other activities like walking would be necessary. Thanks for sharing!