Yoga is super popular. Even though it’s an ancient tradition there’s a kind of implicit connotation that it’s still some kind of mystic practice. The fact is that yoga is really good for you, but it turns out that we don’t know as much about it as we thought.
William J. Broad is a journalist and now author of the book The Science of Yoga. He appeared on the NPR show Fresh Air with Terry Gross to clear up some misconceptions about yoga, his lifelong passion. Broad said he’s been practicing yoga since 1970 and emphasizes that its biggest benefit is the relaxation it provides.
The short radio show is available as a podcast in the iTunes music store or can be streamed from NPR’s website, where it’s also available as an article. In the interview, Broad reveals that he once broke his back doing yoga and after a little bit of research found out that some poses can cause serious neck problems or even a stroke.
No one will be surprised to learn that yoga is incredibly tough and beginners will feel reassured hearing that it takes a long time to get better at it. I for one am a lazy slob and even though I try to workout everyday (and usually fail) yoga is the one part of my workout that I really dread. Here’s the thing, yoga doesn’t help you lose weight. It increases flexibility and is good for your heart because its relaxation methods reduce stress. Study after study has proven that yoga doesn’t lead to much of a calorie burn nor does it provide the aerobic push that running or cycling do.
Over time, Broad says it increases libido and can greatly improve moods (two things that certainly are related) but yoga could actually contribute to weight gain because it slows down the metabolism. Which might wind up being a good thing because it gives me an excuse to keep procrastinating.