Yoga is a physical and mental practice from India that, in the West, usually involves a combination of poses, breathing techniques, and meditation.

Studies show that yoga can improve flexibility, strength, and balance, while also improving focus, reducing stress, decreasing inflammation, and reducing the risk of injury [1][2][3][4] [5].

Yoga comes in many forms: from Power Yoga, which focuses on strength and endurance, to Jivamukti Yoga, which emphasizes meditation and healthy living. In the U.S., more than 20 million people (most of them women) regularly practice yoga. There are a lot of sanskrit terms associated with yoga poses that can be a little confusing — check out our guide to yoga lingo for tips.

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With all the hip accessories and uber-flexible yogis, heading to a yoga studio (for the first or fiftieth time) can be an intimidating experience. Reference our guide to feel totally in-the-know.

Some instructors use dumbbells; others have students hanging from hammocks. New styles of yoga emphasize cardio and strength training in addition to traditional exercises.

A good mat can make or break a yoga class. Find out what to consider to ensure an ideal (slip-free) yoga experience.

Yes, we were completely naked. No, it was not such a big deal. Read on to find out what happened when a group of Greatist girls tried yoga in the buff.

I don’t do yoga... at least, I didn't until I stumbled across Tara Stiles’ book Calm Slim Sexy Yoga at the library.

GUEST POST: Rachel Stroud shares how meditation left her speechless at a silent meditation retreat and helped her face personal challenges.


Works Cited

  1. Yoga meditation practitioners exhibit greater gray matter volume and fewer reported cognitive failures: results of a preliminary voxel-based morphometric analysis. Froeliger, B., Garland, E.L. et al. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012; 2012:821307.
  2. Rapid gene expression changes in peripheral blood lymphocytes upon practice of a comprehensive yoga program. Qu S., Olafsrud S.M., Meza-Zepeda L.A., et al. Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway. PLOS ONE Journal, 2013 Apr; 8(4):e61910.10.1371.
  3. Yoga for stress reduction and injury prevention at work. Gura ST. Work, 2002; 19(1):3-7
  4. Effects of Hatha Yoga Practice on the Health-Related Aspects of Physical Fitness. Tran, M.D., Holly, R.G., Lashbrook, J., et al. Department of Exercise Science, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA. Preventive Cardiology 2001 Autumn;4(4):165-70.
  5. The effects of yoga on anxiety and stress. Li, A.W., Goldsmith, C.A. St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Brighton, MA, USA. Alternative Medicine Review 2012 Mar;17(1):21-35.