30 Apr Can a Natural workout deliver Strength?
A lot of fitness conscious people often wonder if they should go to the Gym or to a Yoga class. If the fitness goals are of building muscle and strength, then Gym seems to be the winner in most eyes. Let us burst some myths on Yoga and know how regular Yoga practice can also help incorporate strength training and has been proven to provide more benefits than the traditional gym workout.
Strength or Weight training has some obvious benefits, such as building muscular mass, fat loss, improved metabolism and increased bone density. In most minds, “strength training” equates with bench press, dumbbells and weight machines. However, the experience of excruciating sore muscles or stiffness after your workout, might have either not motivated to get out of bed the next day or made you wonder if you could just do yoga instead, where you could sit in a crossed legged lotus position, chant Aum, or just aim at building flexibility through some weird convoluted postures.
However, Yoga being an ancient science guided one through a deeper way of life and being, rather than just feeling good by looking better in clothes.
Let’s look at how Yoga, being the original form of mind-body fitness, has a more balanced approach to building strength :
- Similar to martial arts and CrossFit, Yoga offers a more functional form of strength than traditional weight training. Through Yogasanas (Yoga postures), you put your body (and its weight) in positions and orientations that you ultimately have to support with your own muscles. Incorporating balances, dynamic movement, opposing movement postures like pushing-pulling the same muscle groups, thus improved flexibility and mobility around joints, which is part of the strengthening process.
- Since you are limited to “lifting” your own body weight, it usually takes a lot more skill, time, and determination than it would with lifting weights.
- Practicing extended holds in yoga postures develops stamina, strength and endurance. The correct breathing techniques teach you how to and when to intake oxygen more. Monitoring the inhalations and exhalations allow you to use the breath more efficiently as well as use it to direct through the various body stretches.
- Yoga works on full muscle groups and not just isolated muscles. For example, challenging arm balances and inversion postures also flex all the supporting smaller muscles, in order to support the body’s weight during the execution or holding of the posture. This way, it is a more synergistic workout of the entire body, every joint, muscle and fibre (including the one who did not remember you had!), thus improving all bodily functions.
- Yoga is the best medicine for preventing injuries and aiding muscle recovery and repair. Weight training and cardiovascular activity such as running, tightens and shortens the muscles while yoga lengthens in order to build functional strength. When the muscles and surrounding tissues are lengthened and relaxed during yoga posture, it creates more room for blood to flow.
- More blood flow implies more oxygen to the respective body parts, helping muscles to heal and grow stronger.
- Practicing yoga also increases your range of motion (ROM) which provides greater ease and comfort for all regular physical activities allowing you to swing further, reach higher, dip lower, step wider etc. Increased ROM and muscular elasticity serves a more functional purpose since it accentuates more power in all your movements and hence decreases risk of injury.
- The squeezing and releasing opposing motions in Yoga postures helps to flush lactic acid out from the system, making muscles less sore and more effective for your next workout.
- Everyone can do Yoga, no matter how old or young or whatever BMI you have
- Yoga is a wonderful tool to enhance your focus by building concentration of the mind on the breath. This mental strength is what inturn fuels the physical practice.
- A nurtured mind operates at a different level altogether and results in life changing results much more than what can be measured in pounds or muscle mass.
Appropriate diet and nutrition play a key role in maximizing results from any physical training and strength training is certainly no exception. Read more about how you can empower yourself further in this direction with some interesting insights on food.
While you need not abandon your gym routine, however, trying out Yoga on your rest days will pleasantly surprise you on how learning to lift and balance your own body through various yoga poses can be just as effective at sculpting the muscles as your typical gym routine.
Inspire your curiosity, performance and practice at the Dallas Yoga Fest!