Ask the Experts: What Can Yoga Do for You?

Jacalyn McComb explains the benefits during National Yoga Month.

Yoga

 

Namaste. The Department of Health and Human Sciences has designated September as National Yoga Month. In a time where many individuals suffer from obesity, hypertension, heart disease, depression, arthritis and other ailments, yoga offers an accessible system for health and well-being.

Texas Tech University offers many opportunities for individuals to practice yoga. Texas Tech’s Recreation Center offers Beginner Yoga, Baptise Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Kripalu Yoga and Integrative Yoga. The center also teaches Yogalates — a combination of Yoga and Pilates. For a description of these classes, click here, and for a class schedule, click here.

Jacalyn McComb, a professor in the Department of Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences, teaches yoga and pursues research about women’s health as they age. She answered questions about yoga and its benefits and myths.

What are the benefits of yoga?

The traditional eastern yoga postures, or asanas, were designed to prepare oneself for meditation. Meditation is the ultimate goal of the traditional yoga postures. Therefore, a benefit is union with your inner spirit, a quieting of the mind, a listening. Yoga means union. Sanskrit, literally, yoking, from yunakti he yokes; akin to Latin jungere to join.

To whom is yoga most beneficial?

Yoga is beneficial to people of all ages who have similar symptoms. For children, yoga would help with the focus and attention needed for learning. For adolescents, self-esteem and acceptance of their body could be a benefit depending on how the yoga instructor framed the class. For young women and men, it would promote better muscle tone as well as flexibility. For the working professional, yoga would help with quieting the mind and body after a stressful day at work.  However, the biggest benefit would come to those who have very stiff joints. Yoga allows the muscles to relax. The sustained poses stretch the muscle fibers as well as the muscle tendons and ligaments. The poses do not overstretch but help stretch to optimal length for functioning. This process helps with joint mobility which would tend to apply to the older population.

Yoga seems to be gaining popularity.
Have you noticed this, and if so, why do you think this is?

Yes that is true. According to a survey in 2008 published in “Yoga Journal,” there are 15.8 million practitioners.  The latest poll shows that 20.4 million Americans are now practicing.  The largest percentage of practitioners is women between the ages of 18-44. According to the same survey, the top reasons were to improve flexibility, improve health and fitness and stress relief.

Why is yoga more popular among women than men?

Yoga is beneficial to both men and women. It would be especially beneficial to men because men tend to have really tight muscles. Many men perceive yoga as feminine, soft, easy. When they try it they tend to be embarrassed that they cannot do the poses that women can do.

What is your personal background in yoga?

I have been teaching yoga since my college days, on and off, for 30 years. I am a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200) with the Yoga Alliance.  This means that my training consists of 200 educational hours by a Registered Yoga School. I am also certified with Yoga Fit. I now teach at Covenant Lifestyle Center on Saturday mornings. My classes are generally women from ages 35-65 who tend to be well-educated.  Every now and then, men come in but, sadly, they do not come back. It is my opinion that the men feel embarrassed that they cannot do the poses even though the women in my class have been doing yoga for many years.

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Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management

The Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management proudly offers undergraduate majors in Kinesiology and Sport Management along with minors in Kinesiology, Sport Management, Athletic Coaching, Health and Public Health.

We offer master's degree programs to over 80 graduate students with specializations in basic; clinical exercise physiology, human performance, and motor behavior/exercise and sport psychology, and sport management.

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