Yoga: Build a strong body and mind

Focused on Health - April 2013


Yoga strengthens your body and mind. But, can it also reduce your chances of getting cancer?

body yoga“We know that keeping a healthy weight and being active every day can help prevent cancer,” says Alejandro Chaoul, Ph.D., assistant professor in 
MD Anderson’s Integrative Medicine Program

“Some styles of yoga include postures and movements that may get your heart pumping. And, if your heart rate goes up for an extended period of time during yoga, you can count it as exercise.”

READ ALSO: Exercise and your health

“In addition, yoga is a mind-body practice that guides the body through a series of breathing exercises,” Chaoul adds. “Doing these activities can help relieve stress and improve your overall health.”

Other health benefits of yoga include:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved circulation 
  • Improved mood
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased balance

READ ALSO: 5 ways to cut stress

Match your yoga style to your personality

heart yogaWhether you want to lose weight or improve your flexibility, you can find a yoga class to match your fitness level.   

Hatha yoga is a popular style of yoga. It follows well-known methods for doing certain postures and breathing. Hatha yoga can be very gentle or intense depending on how it’s practiced. Here are a few popular styles:

Ashtanga or Power Yoga is a more athletic style of yoga. Its fast pace gets your heart rate up and helps you lose weight.

Kundalini Yoga has a strong focus on meditation. It promotes proper breathing and chanting. While it may not increase your heart rate, this type of yoga can improve mental clarity and flexibility.

Bikram Yoga is also known as hot yoga. It strengthens the body through a series of physically challenging positions in a 105-degree room with 40% humidity. This exercise makes you sweat and relaxes your muscles for a deeper stretch and workout. And, it’s sure to get your heart pumping!

cancer weightTibetan Yoga focuses on controlled breathing, simple movements and meditation. This type of yoga can improve sleep, lessen fatigue and reduce stress. 

“No one style of yoga is best,” says Chaoul. “It’s more important that you find a class and type that works for you.”