Rethink Yoga: It's not just for the casual athlete

Most people think of yoga as strangely named stretchy poses that don’t really give you any major benefit other than maybe improving flexibility.  They see it as a passive form of, to be frank, half assed exercising.  
I’m not going to lie, some forms are truly just for relaxation and maybe getting a good deep stretch.  However, the right yoga will get your heart rate pumping like crazy, get you sweating and work your muscles in a way you didn’t know they could, and it doesn’t take hours; many of my favorites are twenty to thirty minutes.
 
The great thing about yoga is that it is 100% adaptable to your body.  It takes you away from the competitiveness you can start to get at the gym, or even the embarrassment a lot of people can feel working out around others.  It makes you really get in tune with your body and your state of mind to keep you from overdoing it, even if you are doing harder versions.
 
It is also great because it is low impact which means it won’t put your body into stress mode.  When we are overly stressed, especially women, we hold onto the stress hormone cortisol.  Cortisol, according to psychology today, interferes with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease.. you get the picture, it’s no good for you.  It is released in conjunction with our fight or flight response.  Women store this overabundance as stomach fat, making it hard to get that flat, defined abs look.  While tame yoga will not necessarily burn off high cortisol levels, it may help release the brain from high levels which will transfer to your body.  Hardcore yoga will burn off the cortisol levels as well as rebalance your state of mind.
 
I have no exact workouts I do, but I have a few trainers I really like.  For more relaxed yoga, Erica Vetra is great.  My main yoga workouts come from Jillian Michaels and Baron Baptiste.  They are more challenging and make you sweat.  Any form of yoga is great and youtube is full of free videos you can get and experiment with.  Most gyms also offer yoga, and you can usually find a yoga studio pretty easily if you prefer having an instructor present or want the benefit of other people working out with you.
 
See my article on different Types of Yoga to help decide if/and what kind of yoga is right for you.