Yoga Practice, An All-Inclusive Workout

Karolina Gerena, Reporter

Imagine a workout that lets you increase flexibility, burn calories, be mindful and on top of that improve your mental health. Researchers have found that all of this can be achieved through yoga practice. 

It is no wonder yoga has gone up in popularity by 63% since 2010 in the U.S., according to market and consumer group, Statista.

“Mentally, because you focus for 90 minutes on your body.; We don’t go out of body. We focus on what we are doing, we concentrate, so it means no interruptions, no media, no Facebook, no ding ding ding, ” says Cori Crawford Van Oss,  an instructor at Yoga Shala and Wellness Center in Titusville, Fl. about the practice of yoga. “We are focusing here [on the mind]”.

Various studies have shown that practicing yoga can help in the reduction of depression symptoms in those that practice it, according to data presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association. One of those studies concluded that “Bikram yoga significantly reduced symptoms of depression and improved other secondary measures including quality of life, optimism, and cognitive and physical functioning.”

Bikram yoga is, a practice that takes place in rooms with elevated temperatures as high as 100.5 degrees, and one of the most popular forms of yoga. It has been around since the 1970s and mimics the temperatures of India, where the practice originated.

Other studies like the one conducted by Colorado State University concluded that hot yoga participants can reach heart rates as high as 160 beats per minute, the equivalent to a brisk walk, and can burn an average of 460 calories per session for men and 330 for women.

The Disney Cruise Line cast members enjoy a free yoga session as part of their wellness program. (Karolina Gerena)

Hot yoga is not for everyone. Student Carlos Gutierrez tried hot yoga out of curiosity to see the difference between this type of practice and regular yoga and realized it was not for him.

Gutierrez says: “It’s like yoga except you sweat more and you have to go out of your way to go find somewhere that is abnormally hot to do yoga; it’s a hassle,” said Gutierrez. Further, he clarified that while yoga has health benefits, he thinks hot yoga is a “marketing gimmick” because you can practice yoga anywhere.

Yoga is not only beneficial physically and mentally, but it also helps in habit development. 

“Practitioners have 90 minutes of just doing one thing and if you do that 90 minutes every day of one thing, even if it’s not yoga exactly, then you mentally are going to be far more flexible, rested, and astute.” Van Oss says, explaining the connection that exists between the “bad habits” you have in yoga and how they relate to other areas of life.

U.S. Army veteran and  student Tierra Barriel prefers hot yoga over regular yoga, explaining how the practice can help students focus on the present moment to avoid being overwhelmed by everything that they need to do. 

“I’ve been a student and I have also been a veteran. One thing that I will say it’s consistent between the two is that you are put in a position where there is a certain level of stress that you are going to be under, certain level of expectation you have to meet , and you are going to run into these different types of challenges,” said Barriel. “When you do things like yoga it’s beneficial because it slows you down and it brings you back to right now, mental health, right now my body is what’s important.” said Barriel.

Whether you use it to exercise, as a depression reducer, for mental clarity or just as a hobby, yoga is a great tool to help you be present and stress free.

Although Van Oss, who has over 15 years of experience, supports hot yoga and has seen how it helped her with significant injuries, she understands the practice is not for everyone.

Van Oss says: “There are people who don’t like the heat, there are people that had injuries or medical interactions where maybe they need to delay it. With everything, someone should talk to their doctor,” said Van Oss..” She adds,“You want to enjoy it. So if you are a person that does not enjoy it … is that where you want to spend three times a week? No!” She still recommends to her students to give it a shot and try it anyways before passing judgement and, if they still do not like it, “The door is not locked!”