Yoga vs regular exercise
Naturopath SR Jindal believes the benefits of yogasanas are manifold and that they score over physical exercise. He lists why yogic exercise is the better option
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras describe asanas as “sthiram sukam asanam”, meaning a body position that is “steady, calm and comfortable”. Physical exercise, on the other hand is an activity that works our muscles and needs energy. It is different from yoga asana. Here are the differences:
1. Physical exercise consumes more oxygen than yogasanas
2.The heart has to work harder during physical exercise, but BP and heart rate decrease when you practise asanas
3. Physical exercise can overwork joints and even cause rheumatism and stiffness later in life. But asanas encourage flexibility and build stamina
4. Physical exercise builds up toxins in the body while asanas eliminate them
5. Generally, physical exercises are done quickly causing heavy breathing. Thus the respiratory system is forced to work harder
6. Most types of physical exercise develop muscles. The larger the muscle, the more nutrition and oxygen it needs. This means that the organs will get less nutrition and oxygen. Asanas reverse this. They enable the organs to get the greater share of oxygen and nutrition.
7.Those who practise yoga need less food compared to those who engage in physical exercise.
8.Unlike exercise, asanas are practised slowly with relaxation and awareness. Asanas balance emotions and help develop a positive attitude to life.
9. In yoga, body temperature drops, while in exercise, it rises
10. Asanas stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is the source of your relaxation response. It is what helps you wind down after a long day at work. It is what slows your body down. It relaxes muscles, lowers your BP, slows your heart rate and breath, starts your digestive juices flowing, and gets your bladder and bowels ready to do their thing. Exercise stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which is involved in energy output. When the SNS is activated, we feel it as being stressed or excited
11. Regular practise of asanas harmonise endocrine secretions. The endocrine system works through glands which secrete hormones. When this system malfunctions, we get diabetes, hypothyroidism, obesity and goitre.
But it is advisable to first learn yoga with the help of a trained teacher.
(Excerpt from Nature Cure – A Way of Life by Dr S R Jindal, JNI Publications)