This post is for the hard core yogis, the sporadic attendees and the yoga-curious.
When yoga first became popular I wondered about the benefits. Research showed that it was great for flexibility, improved mood, strength and overall well-being, but many questioned whether this one practice was enough for your overall health. Did yoga provide the same benefits as an exercise routine that included aerobic activity and strength training? For a while, professionals said no. That the best way to incorporate yoga was part of a routine that included aerobics and strength training. But recent research is starting to prove otherwise.
Yoga Teacher John Schumacher did his own digging on this subject. Based in Washington, DC he owns Unity Woods Yoga and has been practicing solely yoga for over 30 years. To find out whether yoga was enough, he checked in with his doctors and at age 52 he is completely healthy and in top health compared to people in his age range. Since then many Universities have done research to find out whether yoga provides a good enough workout for overall health. Similar beneficial results have been found. Yoga has been found to build strength, provide cardiovascular benefits, improve lung function, improve flexibility and improve your overall body composition.
Research about Yoga is still small but is starting to build. From a researcher's perspective the studies might not include enough people or be done over a long enough span of time. But we are seeing benefits in the participants nonetheless. If yoga is your go-to form of exercise or you are looking to increase it, it may be all you need. Practicing intense yoga for 1 hour several times per week can help improve your overall health. If you are only doing about 15-20 minutes of light yoga 3-4x per week, you will want to incorporate other exercise into your routine as well. This is especially true for beginners when you aren't as involved in the practice but are working up to it.
If yoga is all you do, then it might be all you need. If you dabble in yoga then combine it with a mix of cardio and strength training for optimal results. Namaste!