Yoga as an Exercise vs Yoga as an Alternative Therapy: What’s the Difference?

Medical yoga benefits

There are numerous reasons why people do yoga. However, recent medical yoga benefits become more and more emphasized. Today, most people consider yoga as a gateway to both mental and physical health. Due to this idea, yoga represents both an exercise and a therapeutic tool.  

Let’s explore these two concepts one by one.

Medical Yoga Benefits
Yoga Exercising Benefits

Practicing yoga improves both your mobility and meditation skills. It is like doing CrossFit and Insanity workouts, minus the vigorous and demanding movements. Yoga uses a more mellow approach in combating weight gain. At the same time, yoga focuses on improving the physical strength as well. When it comes to the heart’s health, yoga steers clear of the traditional and exhausting exercises.

Yoga does not increase the heart rate, unlike many cardio exercises. Dr. Tiffany Field explains this well. She states that yoga puts a person into a parasympathetic state. In such condition, the heart rate slows down. With that, the blood pressure decreases drastically. 

Studies showed that yoga stimulates serotonin production. This is a hormone responsible for regulating moods, sleep, and appetite.

Yoga Studies

There are a lot of studies that link yoga and health benefits. Aside from helping the heart, yoga also trains the brain. In that way, yoga prevents the brain’s gray matter from shrinking. Gray matter is responsible for muscle, emotion, speech, senses, and memory control. 

But, is yoga good exercise to lose weight? The short answer is, yes. 

Yoga as an exercise targets the following areas in your body:


Different yoga poses such as the plank, crane or crow challenge the arm muscles. These poses develop arms’ strength and help support the body.  


Yoga also cranks up your hips, thighs, and quadriceps, improves their strength and flexibility.

Gluteus muscles

Bridges, squats, and warrior poses in yoga sculpts your buttocks.


Back muscles benefit from yoga as well. If done properly, yoga can help relieve back pain with ease.

Abdominal muscles

Yoga also tightens abdominal muscles. Side planks remove love handles, while boat poses impact the abs.

Yoga Benefits as an Alternative Therapy

Yoga alternative therapy combines fundamental yoga concepts and Western medical knowledge. 

Essentially, medical yoga benefits help connect the mind, body, and spirit. Consequently, this helps a person heal completely. Therefore, yoga doesn’t only focus on physical movements. In fact, medical yoga benefits empower the individual entirely.

The University of Rochester Medical Center sees yoga as an additional therapy. Also, yoga represents a solid treatment for cancer patients. Yoga can create a sense of well-being and improve the quality of life. Furthermore, the practice helps introduce serenity in stressed cancer patients. For anxiety disorders, yoga is used as both an alternative and complementary therapy. In cancer patients, yoga helps endure all rigorous cancer medical treatments.

In addition, yoga helps people recover from addictions and PTSD. 

The Verdict: Which is Better?

Millions of people across the world practice yoga daily. Initially, yoga is a physical exercise that acts emotionally, too. In 2015, around 37 million people in the US started their yoga journey. Today, the number continues to rise. By 2020, around 55 million people will be practicing yoga.

Yoga grew along with all the people who practice it. As a result, yoga targets both the mind and body. Moreover, yoga introduces physical and mental health daily. 

Yoga is not an entitled practice. Yoga is for everyone who is feeling both healthy and anxious. However, yoga for beginners should always be practiced with caution. Yoga is best practiced with a professional guidance. 


For your safety, study yoga well before practicing it. Once you do, you will prevent injuries and enjoy all yoga benefits. Also, consult your doctor and determine what works for you. Medical yoga benefits are immense, so don’t hesitate to explore its possibilities even further. 

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