Yoga is definitely not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about strength training. Strength training involves hard-core exercises such as deadlifts, bench press, squats, military press and so on. In comparison to these, Yoga seems a bit…weak – or does it? Let’s find out whether Yoga is beneficial for building strength and can it replace conventional weight lifting?
If you think about it, people who practice yoga are also weight lifters.
They’re lifting their own body weight.
So yes, Yoga targets multiple muscle groups and actually does provide a grueling full body workout.
Hatha Yoga is usually for beginners – it is low intensity. However, the other three forms of Yoga – Vinyasa, Ashtanga and Bikram Yoga are really demanding. Not only do they help in building strength, but they also improve breathing, alleviate stress and rid the body of toxicity. Yoga also helps greatly in improving posture and there are specific poses to address certain health problems.
For example: The Vajrasana (thunderbolt position) is very beneficial for those suffering from digestive issues, especially constipation. It is also quite easy to perform. The Tadasana (Mountain pose) is highly recommended for those who want to increase their height.
In fact, there are yoga postures that specifically target particular parts of the body.
Here are a few examples of how Yoga Makes You Stronger:
- Abs: Many gym goers perform just two ab exercises – sit ups and planks. Well, here are some postures that’ll give sit ups and planks a run for their money. Navasana (boat posture), Extended puppy (Uttana Shisosana), Tittibhasana (like a firefly), Ashtavakrasana (Eight-angle position), half moon (ardha chandrasana), Natrajasana (God of dance pose), Fish position, harlf frog position, crane pose and many, many others. If you get easily bored of doing the same workout again and again – you should try Yoga. It is incredibly diverse.
- Chest Exercises: Are push ups just not cutting it for you? Try these poses for strengthening chest muscles – The bow pose (Dhanurasana), The Cobra pose (Bhujangasana), Camel Pose (ustrasana), Bride pose, Dolphin pose, extended puppy pose, Sphinx pose etc.
- Shoulders: Feathered Peacock, Upward Box (wheel) position, Supported headstand, handstand, pigeon pose are all excellent for shoulders.
- Glutes: Want to rock those Yoga pants or Gym Shorts? Try out these poses: Big toe, Extended hand to big toe, cobra, happy baby, firelog, sphinx, side planks, peacock, upward plank, chair and upward facing dog.
- There are poses for everything else too; hamstrings, knees, feet and even for heart, liver, kidneys, bladder, spine, brain and chakras. Yoga is a way of life.
As shown above, Yoga targets all major muscle groups – some of the asanas are really complex and require a lot of skill, strength, balance and co-ordination. Yoga can definitely help you to get stronger and look youthful, toned and attractive. Having said that, people who practice yoga don’t do it for strength gains alone!
They do it because it makes them feel relaxed and lively. It settles the mind, improves oxygen flow to the various parts of the body and makes you feel light and calm. If you find yourself getting too distracted and stressed out – Yoga can help you to become more present. It can improve your concentration and focus; this will help you to live better and achieve your life goals. All other benefits of yoga such as strength building, flexibility are a bonus!
Yoga can make you stronger – both physically and mentally. However, if building strength is your sole objective, then you need other workouts too, apart from yoga. If you are training to become a strongman or a power lifter, you have to train accordingly. Still, yoga can be a great addition to any routine. You can do hatha yoga on off days – just to engage the muscles, not tire them out. Yoga improves balance and mind-body co-ordination – both of which are highly beneficial for sports persons. Many bodybuilders and strongmen are very stiff. They are unbelievably strong but not flexible and this compromises their overall athletic ability. Yoga can greatly improve flexibility and thus enable a power lifter to use his strength even more effectively. It can help sports persons to stay focussed and deal with high pressure situations. It also helps to control aggression and anger.
Best of all, you don’t need any fancy gym equipment for yoga. You can do it almost anywhere! This is great if you travel a lot or don’t have time to go to the gym every day. As you have already learnt, yoga targets both the body and the mind – thought control and meditation are an integral aspect of yoga. When you learn to control your thoughts, sticking to a diet and exercises regimen becomes much, much easier. You are not tempted by junk foods and are not likely to binge. As a result, you actually achieve your health goals!
Want to learn more? Anthony and his wife Jackie from HealthReporterDaily.com put together a review of an amazing online Yoga Training Program called Yoga Burn, check it out and let us know what you think!