Want to find out more about the pros and cons of yoga?
Whether you’re already a yogi or you’re somebody looking for a good reason to start practicing yoga, you’re in the right place.
Below you’ll find all of the best things about yoga that will have you reaching straight for your yoga mat.
But before we get started - if you want to turn your passion for health and fitness into an exciting new career, enquire about our Level 4 nutrition qualification here or download our online course prospectus for more information on the range of courses that we offer!
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Yoga Pros and Cons: The Pros
Whether you’re here looking for more info on how your yoga practice is benefiting your mind and body, or you’re thinking about getting started with yoga and you want to know more about it, we’re here to share all of the best things about yoga.
We aren’t completely biased, so we will be covering both the pros and the cons.
Although as you'll see, the cons list is significantly smaller, and that's simply because there really aren’t that many disadvantages of yoga!
If you’re here for the specific pros and cons of hot yoga (or bikram), don’t sweat it because we’ll cover all of those very soon!
But for now, we’re going to get started by explaining the pros of yoga in general.
#1 Yoga Improves Flexibility
One of the most well known pros of practicing yoga is that it really improves your flexibility.
A lot of people hesitate to start yoga because they believe that they ‘aren’t flexible enough’ to keep up with the rest of the class, but a lack of flexibility really isn’t a reason to avoid yoga!
You don’t need to be flexible in the first place because regardless of where you start, you’ll find that your flexibility improves naturally the more you practice certain poses.
By practising yoga and improving your flexibility, you’ll loosen your muscles and improve your range of motion.
This has transferable benefits for other forms of exercise, plus an improved range of motion reduces the likelihood of an exercise-related injury!
Specifically, practicing yoga is beneficial for strengthening and loosening your hip joints, which helps with the hip hinge movement.
Whether you’re a runner, or a regular gym-goer who enjoys a good full-body kettlebell workout, improving the flexibility of your hip joints decreases the amount of stress on the joints during exercise, making it less likely that you’ll get a nasty knee injury.
As you can see, the yoga pros for flexibility extend a lot further than helping you to hold one of these challenging yoga poses for 2.
For this reason alone we’d say that it's a must that all active people should include a regular yoga class into their exercise regime.
But if you aren’t quite convinced, there are plenty more pros of yoga that we’re about to cover!
#2 Increases Your Strength
A lot of people make the huge mistake of thinking that yoga is easy and that it's more a method of relaxation than it is a workout.
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that those people have never attended a yoga class in their life.
Yes the pros of yoga do include some benefits associated with mindset and mental wellbeing (all of which are covered a little later on) but that doesn’t take away from the fact that yoga can make you strong!
One of the best things about yoga is that even the ‘easy’ poses get the muscles in your upper and lower body working, helping you to improve your overall strength.
The more you practice yoga and incorporate it as part of a regular exercise routine, the stronger your body will become.
When paired with the pros for improved flexibility, you can probably see why practicing yoga is the perfect way to balance strength and flexibility in a way that you just don’t get with weight-training alone.
#3 Improves Your Posture
Another one of the pros of yoga is that regular yoga practice can correct and improve bad posture.
Poor posture is something that is really prevalent in today's society, especially because so many of us spend hours on end hunched over a desk and typing at a computer.
Posture isn’t just about the way your body looks, poor posture is related to tons of problems like headaches, decreased energy levels, as well as worsened circulation and digestion.
Not to mention, significant aches and pains!
Prolonged sitting, paired with a lack of exercise, can cause the shoulders to round over, and result in significant pain in the lower back and at the neck.
Small habits like sitting with your legs or ankles crossed might seem harmless, but even this can cause hip misalignment which can then lead to more serious pains and problems in the future.
Fortunately, attending a few yoga classes fairly regularly can help to correct poor posture and ultimately reduce these aches and pains.
You might even find a yoga instructor who is qualified to perform a postural assessment, who will be able to identify exactly what aspects of your posture require correction.
Even so, the practice of yoga in general focuses on proper alignment which strengthens the muscles that are weakened when you slouch. This improves your posture and enables your body to function exactly as it should!
This is another way that practicing yoga can help to improve your performance in other activities like running and cycling, and prevent your muscles and joints from exercise-related injuries.
Want to know more about how your lifestyle is having a negative effect on your posture? Check out our office fitness blog post for more information and some easy solutions!
#4 Pros and Cons Of Yoga: Mindfulness
One of the pros of yoga outside of its physical benefits, is that practicing yoga promotes mindfulness.
During yoga, you are encouraged to bring your focus to the present, paying attention to your breathing and slowing down your thought process.
The mindfulness aspect of yoga brings harmony between the mind and body which allows you to access a true state of relaxation and encourages a much healthier mental state.
The breathing and stretching exercises paired with the perfect ambience made up of calming music, dim lighting, and a controlled temperature, all make the perfect environment to truly relax and quieten your mind.
Interested in pursing a career related to yoga? Here's the OriGym guide to becoming a yoga instructor in the UK.
#5 Relieves Stress
One of the main reasons that a lot of people want to try yoga is that they’ve heard of the yoga pros for stress relief.
It’s a pretty well known fact that yoga can play a huge role in relieving stress, and this is partly because focusing on controlled breathing is a brilliant way to relax both your body and your mind.
Just look at this quote taken from a research study by Woodyard (2011):
“The practice of yoga produces a physiological state opposite to that of the flight-or-fight stress response and with that interruption in the stress response, a sense of balance and union between the mind and body can be achieved.”
Our mind, body, and breathing are all greatly affected by stress, so it’s not really surprising that a practice that helps to relax the mind and body, and encourages us to focus on our breathing, has such significant benefits when it comes to helping with stress.
There are tons of academic studies to support these claims, with scientific research from Katuri et al. (2016) even finding an association between practicing yoga and reduced levels of cortisol (often referred to as the ‘stress hormone’).
Not only do the pros of yoga for stress apply as a solution for stress, practising yoga as part of your routine can also help you to stop getting as stressed out in general, which allows you to handle stress in a more calm and collected way.
Any well-practiced Yogi will tell you that taking the time to do a regular yoga workout even when you aren’t feeling stressed can really help you to keep your cool when those stressful situations do arise.
#6 Tones Your Body
Thanks to the pros of yoga for working the muscles and building overall strength, adding the occasional yoga workout into your exercise routine will pay off by getting you well on your way to a toned physique.
That's because as well as building your body strength, performing yoga poses also burns body fat, which is essential if you want to achieve the chiseled 6 pack you’ve always desired.
This especially true of bikram yoga, so make sure you stick around for the hot yoga pros and cons a little further on.
We’d be lying if we said that yoga alone would shred enough body fat to build that toned physique.
One of the few disadvantages of yoga is that getting fit this way would take a little longer than strength-training. But, if you were to take that approach, you’d miss out on all of the other pros in this list!
What we’re trying to say is that alongside a well-balanced diet, yoga is definitely a healthy way to work toward your exercise goals.
Do you struggle with eating well as part of your exercise regime? Don't worry! Next on our list of the pros and cons of yoga, we’ve explained exactly why practicing yoga is the best way to take a balanced approach to a healthier lifestyle.
Serious about toning up? Find everything you need to know about vegan weight-training here.
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#7 Encourages Healthy Eating
A lot of Yogi’s will tell you that once they started practicing yoga, they became much more conscious about what they were eating and made a natural transition towards a healthier relationship with food.
Yoga lovers often report less binge eating and reduced ‘emotional eating’, a claim that is backed up by studies on the association between yoga and mindful eating.
Studies have shown that those who regularly practice yoga often transition towards a mindful eating approach, which involves eating to be healthy and encourages you to present whilst you eat.
According to this 2009 study, the practice of mindful eating goes hand in hand with the pros of yoga for mindfulness that we covered earlier on.
The same study explained that those who regularly practice yoga had a lower BMI (body-mass index) than individuals who did not, and it explained that pairing yoga practice and mindful eating could make a standard weight-loss programme more effective.
Seeing as the science shows that practicing yoga helps you to take a healthier approach to food, it’s clear that yoga really can help you to improve your diet.
Not only will this help you to achieve any aesthetic goals and help you to get toned up, we all know that eating well has an endless number of other health benefits outside of looking good.
Are you interested in all things health and nutrition? After we’ve covered all of the pros and cons of yoga, why not look into how to become a qualified nutrition coach.
#8 Helps With Heart Health
Thanks to a number of the yoga pros that we’ve already mentioned, one thing to know about yoga is that it can actually help to keep your heart healthy!
This is mainly because of the way that practicing yoga can relieve stress and reduce the levels of cortisol in a person's body.
We all know that stress is bad for the heart, so this fact shouldn’t be all that surprising.
What we do want to talk about is that by controlling stress and preventing excessive cortisol levels, practicing yoga can prevent high blood pressure - which as we all know can end up causing a number of heart problems.
Not only that, regularly getting your heart rate up with an aerobic yoga class promotes heart health by lowering the resting heart rate, improving cardiovascular endurance, and basically making you happier and healthier in general.
This can also help to relieve any signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, which leads us on to the next item of our yoga pros and cons list.
#9 Yoga Pros For Emotional Wellbeing
One of the pros of yoga is that it puts you in a state of mindfulness and meditation that is unparalleled by another kind of exercise.
Exercise in general can help ease experiences of both anxiety and depression by producing mood boosting endorphins, but the state of mindfulness promoted by yoga can make that impact even more significant.
Specifically, practicing yoga is believed to help to stabilise emotions.
Yoga is also known to help individuals to build their sense of self in a positive light, which in turn can increase a person's self-esteem, improving their overall emotional wellbeing.
These emotional therapeutic benefits all contribute to the widely accepted belief that practicing yoga regularly improves a person's overall quality of life.
If you really want to reap the rewards of yoga, you can find the best yoga studios in the UK over on our recent blog. Or, read about 'what makes a good yoga teacher' to learn more about what to look for in an instructor!
#10 Reduces Chronic Pain
Remember at the start of our yoga pros and cons list when we talked about flexibility and building strength? Well, there’s evidence that the benefit of yoga for improving your strength flexibility can help to reduce chronic pain.
Yogi’s will tell you that the more you practice yoga, the more you’ll notice any aches and pains start to disappear.
Tons of regulars at yoga classes will tell you first hand that gentle yoga practice can help to decrease chronic pain especially back or knee pain.
Alongside a professional physical therapy programme, practicing yoga can really help to reduce chronic pain and strengthen the muscles in the area causing you issues.
This could also be down to the fact that practicing yoga helps correct poor posture, and therefore allows the body to function as it should, removing any unnecessary stress on joints.
But don’t just take our word for it, here are some findings from a Harvard University study:
“Yoga can help people with arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraine, low back pain, and many other types of chronic pain conditions.”
“The study found that among 313 people with chronic low back pain, a weekly yoga class increased mobility more than standard medical care for the condition.”
#11 Improves Balance
This is arguably one of the most well known pros of yoga, but we still thought that it deserved a place on our list.
If you’re looking to benefit your balance through the practice of yoga, then doing a quick yoga workout everyday can really make a huge difference.
Improved balance has transferable benefits for other sports and activities where good coordination and balance are required, but probably the most important benefit of improved balance is for the elderly.
For the elderly, balance can be a pretty big problem. Improved balance means better stability and less falls which can lead to prolonged independence and reduced injuries from slips, trips, and falls.
Need more help mastering the more difficult yoga poses? Check out our guide to best yoga blocks.
#12 Improves Sleep Quality
Another brilliant thing about yoga is that it can improve the quality of your sleep.
Regular yoga workouts can help you fall asleep faster, sleep for longer, and get better quality of sleep - all of which leave you feeling well-rested and can really boost your overall mood.
For a lot of people, taking the time to step away from an otherwise hectic life to practice yoga has huge payoffs.
By improving the quality of your sleep, yoga ensures that you get the downtime that your body so desperately needs.
A lack of sleep is something that is associated with a range of different physical diseases, as well as depression, and chronic stress, so it's no wonder that more and more people are becoming interested in how yoga can benefit their sleeping habits.
#13 All Ages & Abilities Can Get Involved
One final thing that we love about yoga is that it’s suitable for all ages and abilities.
Literally anybody can do yoga, as it’s relatively low impact and there are always beginner classes on offer to ease yourself in.
As we mentioned above, one of the pros of yoga is that it can help to improve balance, which is a real benefit for older people.
In children and younger people, studies have found significant positive relationships between children's practice of yoga and improved mental health, ability to cope with dress, and overall mood.
Not to mention all of the other pros of yoga that we’ve covered in this list!
Want to know more about the pros and cons of yoga for children? You can find the full study here.
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As much as we love yoga, our yoga pros and cons list wouldn’t be complete without covering the cons.
So before we get to some specifics about the pros and cons of bikram yoga (also known as hot yoga) here are some things to consider.
#1 Yoga Can Be Expensive
One thing to know about yoga is that it isn’t the most affordable hobby.
Going to a class at a yoga studio can cost you anywhere in the region of £8 - £10, whilst a private 1-1 session with a qualified yoga instructor will set you back even more.
If you’re on a budget, you might find that some big chain gyms offer free yoga classes with a relatively cheap monthly membership.
Or, you could get around this cost by finding an online yoga teacher or trying out some free workouts on the likes of YouTube.
#2 Yoga Pros And Cons: Injury Risk
Yoga is a relatively low risk form of exercise, but with all kinds of exercise and activities, there is always still a slight risk of injury.
For yoga, that risk is significantly lower than the likes of crossfit (any other exercise we've got a blog on*), it would be irresponsible of us to say that there is no risk of injury from practicing yoga.
If you’re thinking of starting up yoga for the pros of helping chronic pain or correcting posture as somebody with an existing problem or injury, you should always have a chat with your doctor or physiotherapist before taking up any kind of exercise.
#3 Going To A Class Can Be Scary
One of the disadvantages of yoga is that going to a yoga class for the time can be pretty daunting.
If you feel a little anxious about starting yoga, then you aren’t alone. Nobody likes to be the new person, in fact we’d go as far as to say that going to the class in the first place will be the hardest part of your first yoga experience.
Once you get comfortable with the class, we’re confident that you will forget all about this small con of yoga and you’ll absolutely love the experience.
If you are a little anxious about going to a class, there are other ways to practice yoga.
There are tons of brilliant yoga workouts available online if you’d prefer to practice yoga in the comfort of your own home.
Hot Yoga Pros And Cons
Now that we’ve explained all the best things about yoga and a couple of things to consider before you get started, we thought we’d finish by talking a little bit about the pros and cons of hot yoga.
So, What Is Hot Yoga?
Hot yoga is exactly what the name suggests, it’s yoga practiced in a heated room.
The temperature is determined by the yoga instructor, but it's normally anywhere between 27°C and 38°C.
Hot yoga classes vary between different studios and teachers in terms of temperature, and the poses that you’ll do, which is why hot yoga and bikram yoga aren’t the same thing.
Bikram yoga is a specific type of hot yoga, in the same way that ‘spin’ is a branded type of indoor cycling class.
During Bikram yoga, there are 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises which are performed in the same order for every class.
Bikram classes are always taught in a room heated to exactly 41°C with 40% humidity.
Regardless of whether you’re wanting to try hot yoga or Bikram yoga, both have some very similar pros and cons - here they are!
Pros And Cons Of Hot Yoga: The Pros!
Hot yoga has all of the same pros of yoga in general, along with a few added extras.
Want to know all the best things about Bikram yoga and hot yoga in general? Here they are!
#1 More Intense Workout
Probably the main reason that people try heated yoga is that it cranks up the intensity compared to a normal yoga class.
The heat gets your heart, lungs, and muscles working harder which gives you a more intense workout and boosts the pros of yoga for your physical fitness in general.
#2 Burns More Calories
Another popular reason for opting for heated (or Bikram) yoga is that it burns a ton more calories than regular yoga workouts.
Simply put, this is because the workout is more challenging. Every pose, stretch, and breath is more difficult when the temperature is up.
If you were to do the same class and put in the exact same amount of effort in a heated study as you would in a regular yoga class, you could expect to burn significantly more calories doing hot yoga.
The more calories you burn, the better results you’ll see in terms of weight loss.
#3 Increased Flexibility
One final thing to say about hot yoga is that it can increase your flexibility, even more so than regular yoga!
We know that we talked about increased flexibility when we covered the pros and cons of yoga in general, but one thing to know about hot yoga is that the heat helps your muscles to loosen up during the class.
When you practice hot yoga, it takes a lot less time to warm up your body which means that you are more flexible from the get go.
This makes it easier to hold more difficult poses and it makes holding those poses more effective.
Hot Yoga Disadvantages
With the additional pros that come with yoga, come a few more disadvantages.
If you’re still keen on trying hot yoga after reading all of the pros and cons, make sure you take a full bottle of water and always leave the class if you’re feeling too uncomfortable.
#1 You Can Overstretch
Although increased flexibility can be a benefit of Bikram yoga, this isn’t entirely a good thing.
The problem is that because the heat loosens your muscles, there is a risk that you can actually overstretch.
Even the most flexible of people are at risk of injuring a tendon or ligament that wouldn’t normally be as flexible if it weren’t for the heat.
Overextending and pulling a muscle is a lot more common in hot yoga compared to regular classes.
One of the main causes for concern about hot yoga is the potential for dehydration.
There's no debating that practicing hot yoga is uncomfortable, but whilst turning up the temperature can help you burn more calories, it can also cause dehydration and even heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
This could leave you feeling dizzy and even a little bit sick, which isn’t pleasant to say the least.
Dehydration and heat exhaustion is especially something to worry about if you have an existing illness that the excessive heat could make worse, for example, any kind of cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure.
#3 It’s Not For Everyone
Leading on from our point about avoiding hot yoga if you have a condition like high blood pressure, the final disadvantage of hot yoga is that unlike regular yoga, it isn’t suitable for all ages and abilities.
Especially, this is significant to the Bikram yoga pros and cons, as Bikram yoga is known for being pretty warm and for a lot of people, unbearable.
There are a number of groups of people who should avoid hot yoga, including pregnant women, children, and people with preexisting health problems.
Whilst yoga is normally an accessible form of exercise for any ability of fitness level, we can’t say the same for hot yoga.
If you’re not used to intense workouts or you haven’t tested out your flexibility with a regular yoga class, Bikram yoga definitely isn’t the best place to start.
Before You Go!
Now that we’ve covered all of the pros and cons of yoga, we hope that you have a better idea of whether practicing yoga is for you.
Whilst you’re here, why not enquire about our REPS endorsed sports nutrition course and take your career in an exciting new direction.
Or, check out our online course prospectus here for information and all of the other courses we offer!