Graduating from the fringes of fitness, yoga has become the king of the exercise world. Where once claiming to practice yoga may have gotten you laughed out of the local YWCA, now, you would be hard-pressed to find a fitness program that does not feature some form of yoga. Whether it's Hatha or Bindu or Kriya, the hunger for yoga has not shown any signs of abating.
To be sure, free weights and treadmills and stair climbers are as ubiquitous as ever, but yoga still has an appeal that Western fitness regimens can't muster. It's not hard to see why yoga has come to claim the Raj's position in the fitness world. Though Pilates has found its niche, it seems to be relegated to niche-dom for the foreseeable future. Unlike Pilates, yoga does not require mastery of any complex machinery.
More than the mere physical workout, yoga has a great deal of peripheral benefits. These include a calmer demeanor, better mental focus, and an unbridled sense of well-being. The only requirements for a successful yoga session are enough space, a qualified instructor (or guru if you're lucky) and some comfortable yoga clothes. The rest is breathing, stretching, holding, and sweating.
Few weight lifters can perform a handstand or hold themselves in a standing lotus position for more than five minutes. The stereotypical grunting and groaning of the free weight room still have an appeal. If increasing muscle size is crucial, nothing compares to weight lifting. But, it is a common misconception to think that yoga training does not cultivate strength. In fact, it builds a tremendous amount of strength.
Yoga will be the de facto form of fitness for a long time to come. The inner strength and well-being of yoga practitioners knows no bounds. Given the fact that there are dozens of styles of yoga means no one person can ever exhaust the practice of yoga. The best instructors, it should be noted, have been certified by accredited worldwide yoga organizations and respected gurus. Be wary of any fly-by-night gurus who are slow to show you their certification.
The optimal yoga session means you need the right kind of yoga clothes to help you bend as you need to and feel more confident than you thought possible.