It’s no surprise that yoga is a great way to promote physical and mental balance.
However, are the benefits also supportive enough to encourage strength and muscle growth?
While yoga is built on controlling your breathing, it also offers a breath of fresh air when it comes to how you can build muscle without heading to the weight room.
So, get ready to trade in those dumbbells for the downward dog after reading our top tips on why and how yoga can effectively replace strength training in order to promote muscle tone and build.
From strengthening to lengthening, it’s become apparent that through the combination of breathwork and poses, practicing yoga can, in fact, pose quite a threat to lifting weights.
How? You may ask…
Tone Up Your Body by Toning Down the Weights
Well, for one, Yoga conditions you to perform things that you would do in your everyday routines like bending or lifting.
So, by moving your body in the way that it was designed to maneuver, you’re promoting strength and growth of the muscles that you’re otherwise already using on a daily basis.
Still not convinced…? Ok…
By No Stretch of the Imagination is Yoga Solely for Stretching
When you think of a yogi, what comes to mind?
A skinny old wise man with a long beard and answers to all of the questions to the universe? Someone in the middle of the woods wearing Birkenstocks with a bag of granola talking to a deer? Me in yoga pants Instagramming my Pumpkin Spiced Latte with the hashtag #SpiceUpYourLife?
Listen, all of those things could be accurate because Yoga is inclusive of all athletes, sizes, and ages because of all of the benefits it provides, including… you guessed it, muscle build and maintenance!
Anybody can do yoga and yoga can do just about anything for the body…
This ain’t your grandma’s yoga… but it can be!
Long gone are the days when yoga was thought to be just a way to stretch. By integrating different muscle groups simultaneously, yoga creates overall functional strength.
Sustaining yoga poses also increases muscular endurance as many of the postures are naturally weight-bearing.
In combination with proper breathing techniques known as pranayama, you can learn to balance your own weight which can be just as efficient in building muscle as a traditional gym routine would.
Additionally, it’s particularly effective as a strength training exercise due to how it helps to tone both the large and the small muscles by engaging them simultaneously to hold different poses.
And that brings us to our next point… You already know what time it is!
Lights, Camera, Action, and POSE.
While Yoga features hundreds of different poses, there’s a certain few that are particularly effective in boosting moves that will boost strength.
You’ll Plank Us Later
Practicing the Plank Pose engages your entire body to help strengthen your core as you are using your own bodyweight to maintain the position.
By consistently lifting your own bodyweight to engage your core, you are essentially doing just as you would in the gym but instead of weights, you’re using your body as equipment.
This Half Moon Pose Will Give You a Full Work Out
Poses that require you to balance on just one leg are great for working not just the legs, but the core as well.
If you’re a novice Yogi, then you might want to give yourself a little assistance using a block under your hand for a little boost.
Combat Muscle Loss with the Warrior II Pose
This position is great for helping to strengthen the legs, core, back and arms.
The holy grail of yoga poses, you can really test yourself with this one by working on holding for an extended period of time to help strengthen your entire body.
Muscle Injuries are No Childs Play
While effective, weight training typically isolates individual muscle groups one at a time which can potentially result with injuries down the road.
Yoga, on the other hand, helps to build resistance in order to gradually strengthen the body, preventing potential injuries which your muscles and joints will thank you for.
So not only does replacing strength training with yoga help to support muscle growth but it aids in the overall recovery and repair of the muscles that you are working on growing.
Additionally, yoga is able to determine which muscles need strengthening so that you can focus on those before injuring yourself all while improving muscle stamina and pain tolerance.
Now you may be wondering why we’re making such a big deal about the importance of focusing on muscle strength.
Muscle Matter Matters
Well I hate to say it, but as you enter your 30’s, muscle begins to diminish and continues at a rate of about 3% per decade without consistent exercise and adequate nutrition.
This is why strength training should be an integral part of your workout routine, no matter what method.
When it comes to yoga vs weight training, the former can properly help to avoid rapid muscle loss by building strength as a direct result of engaging multiple muscles at one – some poses may even have you use your entire body!
It helps to build resistance for the purpose of gradually strengthening the body.
Now for all of you overachievers out there, you may be wondering if it’s possible to combine weights with yoga?
And to that I say: You sure betcha can!
It doesn’t need to be just about yoga vs strength training… instead think about it as yoga WITH strength training.
Adding weights to your poses is a super effective way to exponentially increase your metabolism, strength and even your cardiovascular. Even better, you’ll be training both your body and your mind.
Check to see if your local gym offers a yoga sculpt class which will typically introduce one-to-five pound weights to build strength while aligning with poses.
While it’s not exclusive just to yogis or weightlifting experts, it’s advisable that you master the basics of yoga before introducing weights into the mix. You can also practice this individually by using your body weight (pushups, squats, etc.) if you would prefer not to implement physical weights.
Now that you know how to properly engage in yoga while using weights, its time to show it off!
Flex in the Weight Room
Yoga can help to improve your flexibility which will help you in your quest to build muscle.
Engaging in the different positions will exponentially increase your body’s range of motions so you can jump higher or squat lower, all mechanisms that will have an advantage when you resume your weight training programs.
So, for all of you hardcore readers out there looking to make that core hard, yoga will get you in the shape you’re looking to be in so you can strut your stuff next time you’re at the gym.
To Sum It All Up
So now that you’re on your way to becoming a yogi master and understand how yoga can replace strength training, keep in mind that just like anything that you’re new to, make sure to ease into it.
Remember that this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon as you’re working to strengthen your muscles through both inner and outer balance.
By restoring harmony throughout the body, you can look and feel your best both inside and outside of the gym. And for when you are in the gym, don’t hesitate to try something new! Working out doesn’t need to be all work and no play.
If you’re looking for new exercises, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to find out about tips and tricks that you can use in your everyday training routines.
I mean, let’s face it, routines don’t need to be boring – you’re working out to thrive so why not thrive while you’re working out!
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