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Yoga has gained a lot of attention recently, and according to WebMD, it “has been practiced for more than 5,000 years, and currently, close to 11 million Americans are enjoying its health benefits.”

Before we go crazy about all the great things that yoga has to offer, we should differentiate between the various styles of yoga. There are many different styles and although many are based on the same physical postures, each style has a specific emphasis.

Some styles of yoga include:

Hatha is a common term that can include many of the physical types of yoga. Hatha yoga is generally gentle and slow paced. This style focuses on asanas, or poses.

“‘Ashtanga’ means ‘eight limbs’ in Sanskrit,” states Ann Pizer, About.com’s Guide to Yoga. Ashtanga is a more fast-paced approach to yoga; it is very physically demanding because you’re constantly moving from one pose to the next.

“Vinyasa” means breath-synchronized movement, which means movements are matched to the breath     this is a key factor in this style of yoga. It tends to be a more dynamic style based on a series of poses called Sun Salutations. A typical Vinyasa class will start with Sun Salutations to get the body ready for more intense stretching that is done towards the end of class.

Laughter Yoga
Laughter Yoga is one of the most recent yoga-inspired trends. It originated in India and includes tons of laughing, so don't expect much yoga if you attend a Laughter Yoga class.

But what can yoga really do for Collegiettes like you? Keep reading to learn about the benefits of yoga.

Yoga and You

Practicing yoga regularly provides consistent energy. Certain yoga positions let more oxygen flow to the brain, which can give a caffeine-like effect. Which pick-me-up would you prefer: ten minutes of yoga each morning or a Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks that will make your stomach swell and your wallet deflate?

Studies have shown that the meditative practices of yoga can improve concentration. According to a Time magazine article, “due to advanced brain scanning technology, researchers are beginning to show that meditation directly affects the structure and function of the brain – changing it in ways that seem to increase attention span, improve memory, and sharpen focus.”

Stress Relief

Yoga can reduce the effects of stress on your body because it can lower the stress hormone cortisol in your bloodstream. Yoga is also known to help students sleep better. Between all the classwork, assignments, work, clubs and other activities, many students have mile-long to-do lists. Being able to escape reality and take some time for you and your body is a blessing. Sign us up!

Better Sex
Yep, we said it: better sex. Different asanas have been known to enhance sexual awareness and better sensitivity. Yoga strengthens your muscles and increases both your endurance and flexibility. Get your man to do yoga with you; yoga has been proven to help men last longer in bed. This all adds up to a more satisfying love life!

Flexibility and Balance
Yoga helps lengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your body. Another key part to yoga is balance and control over the body. Once you start practicing yoga regularly, you will see both your balance and flexibility improve!

One major aspect of yoga is that it utilizes your body weight to improve overall strength. By practicing yoga, you develop muscle tone (hot!) Different poses can help tone different parts of your body. According to WebMD, Downward Dog, and the Plank Pose help build upper-body strength. Upward Dog and Chair Pose help strengthen the lower back. Standing poses, especially if they are held for several long breaths, help build strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps, and abdominal muscles.

Calmness and “Inner Peace”
A very empowering benefit from yoga is calmness, or “inner peace,” a more positive outlook on life; an increase in one’s sense of self-acceptance and spiritual awareness.

Ready to start practicing yoga?

All you need are clothes that allow you to move freely, a mat, water, and an open mind. Whether you choose to fit in 10 minutes every morning or take an hour-long class, it will benefit you in multiple ways. So check out a local yoga studio like Om Shala, sign up for a yoga class at HSU, or just try it in the comfort of your own home.

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