Yoga is a practice that I feel so strongly about, but many people just don’t believe that it’s a good workout. I’ve overheard, “yoga isn’t really a workout” or “what did you do in class today, stretch?”
Whenever I hear this, I try to explain that yoga can be as strenuous or as relaxed as you want it to be. Why Everyone Needs to Stop Saying Yoga Doesn’t Count as a Workout is an excellent article on Women’s Health that inspired me.
To me, yoga isn’t just a work out. It is a practice. I don’t want to be cheesy or pretentious and say, “It is a way of life,” but it really is.
Yoga has the power to positively affect you mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I do not only become more flexible when I do yoga, but I have a clearer mind and develop leaner muscle and strength, which is great for cross-training.
Think about it. If you only run, bike, and lift weights, you are not stretching your muscles and increasing your strength to its full capacity.
As the quote says above, yoga improves your strength and flexibility. You don’t need to only lift weights to develop muscle, but you do need to hold your own body weight, which will naturally increase your muscle strength.
While doing many poses and asanas such as plank, side plank, chaturanga, downward dog, and upward dog, you are using your own body weight to increase your strength. A full sun salutation shown in the picture above is not as easy as it looks, especially when you are doing it three times in a row.
There are so many poses that rely on lower and upper body strength, such as lunge, Warrior I, Warrior II, chair, tree pose, and that’s just for beginners.
My Personal Love Affair with Yoga
Vinyasa, “movement linked with breath” is my favorite style of yoga to get an amazing workout and improve my mood. Endorphins, people! Every Wednesday my Intermediate Vinyasa class is constantly challenging me.
The yoga instructor I have for this class loves to encourage us to build on poses we have mastered, and try new things. She’s also not afraid to laugh and be easy on herself when she loses her balance.
Today, we tried a pose called tittibhasana (I know the name is funny). This is an arm balance where both legs rest on top of either arm. This pose is extremely advanced, and you must begin this pose with your bottom resting on the floor and then you put your legs on top of your arms and lift up. The yoga video below explains it well!
Since most of your weight is on your arms/wrists/hands you can imagine how difficult this can be. Many of us fall on our bottom when we try to do this. Instead of acting disappointed at our failed attempts, she says something along the lines of, “you have to fall on your bottom to learn how to get back up.” This is a quote of inner strength that is so important in yoga and in life.
Another pose, called crow relies on the muscles in your abs and arms. In this pose, many people typically fall on their face. It’s not as bad as it sounds, (you can catch yourself with your arms or fall on your side) but it can also develop the inner strength I was talking about to get back up and try again. Never give up.
This post isn’t meant to scare you, my purpose is to inspire you to practice yoga. You will only improve over time.
So, tell me, what do you think of yoga? Do you yoga? I hope that you fall in love with it as much as I did.