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8 Reasons Yoga Beats the Gym

By nature, I am not a comparer. Everything has its plusses and minuses in my book (except, of course, yoga which is all plusses!). So, while I am not anti-gym, I do think that yoga kicks the gym’s derrière on every level, and you can kick your own (butt, that is) in yoga, literally, if you feel like it!

People are always curious as to “what else I do” to “work out” other than yoga. The answer? Nothing! Yoga is everything my body needs to function at it’s absolute best. Here’s why:

It’s efficient! Why would I waste so much time at the gym working each part of my body separately when I can connect all of the dots and do it all at once with yoga? No amount of lifting weights is going to make my arms as strong as holding up my own body weight in yoga. Also, practically everything you do in yoga is engaging your core, from core-centric poses to moving from pose to pose, using your core to stabilize your body. And in different inversions and arm balances, yoga allows you to raise your heartbeat, strengthen your muscles, and lengthen them out all at once. How’s that for efficiency?

It can count as cardio. All you have to do is try a few sun salutations or any flow at a good, steady pace, matching your breath to your movement. Or, if you are a bit more adventurous, try some Kundalini kriyas (like the Kundalini frogs in the step-by-step breakdown of shoulder press pose.)

Yoga is not a competitive sport! I prefer yoga to the gym as I steer clear of anything that involves pitting myself against others. Isn’t there enough competition in work and in life in general? While some people thrive on trying to be the fastest in spin class or trying to run longer than the woman on the treadmill next to them, in yoga it doesn’t matter what any one else is doing. There is no comparing or competing because there is only you.

It saves money. In fact, yoga doesn’t have to cost a penny. All you need to practice is you. You can wear any clothes that allow you to move, and you don’t even need a yoga mat: grass and carpet work just fine. If you want some inspiration, there are plenty of great, inexpensive yoga DVDs or free online videos.

You can do it anywhere. With no equipment necessary, it doesn’t matter if you are at home, at your office, on the road-or even in the streets of NYC, as in the SHAPE Yoga Anywhere videos. So long as you have the desire, you can strike a few poses.

Yoga will help you lose weight. Practicing yoga changes your mind: It changes the way you approach life, your body, and eating. Yoga shows you how to appreciate your body for all of the amazing things that it can do for you and points you in the direction of wanting to fill your body with the best possible fuel rather than processed junk food. And changing your mind about your body and the foods you feed it will be a much more effective weight-loss tool than burning a bunch of calories in an aggressive kick-boxing class and then mindlessly plowing through equal or more calories later that day.

Hello, variety. Yoga can be different every single day, if you want it to be. Want a challenge? Throw some arm balances and inversions into your practice. Need to focus? Try a few balance poses sequentially on the same foot. Or if you’re seeking relaxation, hang out in pigeon, a few seated forward folds, and a restorative backbend.

No injuries. In yoga, you learn to unite your body and mind. This allows you to move with ease and pay attention to how your body is feeling at all times, so you move in a way that feels good for you and not one that puts you in places your body doesn’t want to be. The result? An injury-free, strong, healthy, whole you.

In all fairness, I realize that this is a pretty one-sided argument (okay, a totally one-sided argument). But, for those who ask, “What else you need other than yoga?” I say: If you are going to chose one over the other, chose the one that saves you time, saves you money, makes you feel great, and helps you lose weight.

  • By Heidi Kristoffer @heidikristoffer

Yoga and Muscle Tone

Yoga is a great form of exercise. You can do it anywhere and it requires no special equipment. It also enhances flexibility, endurance as well as muscle tone. Yoga asanas (or poses) have a dual function – some of the poses use your body weight to tone your muscles, while others strengthen the muscles. A good example of where you gain muscle definition through bodyweight exercises are Chatturanga (four-limbed staff pose) and Paripurna navasana (boat pose), while poses like Trikonasana (triangle pose) engage major muscle groups to strengthen them and also improve your flexibility, balance and muscle tone.

In fact, so effective is Yoga in strengthening your muscles, that a study done by the American Council on Exercise in 2005 revealed that beginners at the gym who practiced Hatha Yoga for 8 weeks could do more sit-ups and push-ups because of increased muscle mass, compared to those who did no prior workouts. With regular practice of Yoga, you will visually notice that your body is more sculpted and muscles defined, without ever having to lift weights at the gym!

Could Yoga be Better than Hitting the Gym?

While your workout at the gym will bust calories at a faster pace, it causes a lot of stress on your bones, joints, and muscles, which also makes you more susceptible to injuries. On the other hand, yoga gently takes your body through a full range of complex motions, which gently loosen your tight muscles without putting any extra stress on joints. In fact, because yoga is a weight-bearing exercise, it puts only adequate stress on your bones which in turn enhances their ability to store calcium, hence toning not only your muscles but also strengthening your bones at the same time.

Make the Most of Your Yoga Session

For a well-toned body, make sure you keep your workouts challenging. Start with ‘Yoga for Beginners’ to get your body used to the asanas. But make sure that as your strength and flexibility increases, you start practicing more complex and advanced asanas to keep your muscles challenged. Make the most of your workout by increasing the pace at which you do each pose or hold every pose for longer and do more reps. You can also add more asanas to each yoga session, try new variations of a pose, or even other forms of yoga to tone your muscles further.

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Yoga and its Limitations

While Yoga will give you muscle definition and strength, it isn’t vigorous enough a workout for someone to ‘bulk up’. If you are looking to add muscle mass, yoga is not the right workout for you. Also, because yoga is slow and relaxing, it will also not offer any high-intensity cardio benefits. Yoga will tone your body only using your body weight, which may not be enough to reach your fitness goals, particularly if you want to have much larger muscles.

The Final Verdict:

Yes, yoga asanas will tone the body, but they are more than just a way to lose weight as they concentrate on deeper aspects of effectively functioning muscle groups. “Strong toned muscles at the core of your body support good health. Yoga can help you develop the perfect balance of abdominal strength, suppleness, relaxation, and awareness. Rotational exercises like Jathara Parivartanasana (revolved abdomen pose) engage the internal and external obliques, key muscles for developing a firm abdominal wall. When toned well, the diagonal muscle fibers of the internal and external obliques form a powerful, interlacing network that draws in the abdomen and these can be strengthened by doing Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)”, says Deepika Mehta, a world famous yoga teacher in Mumbai, who trains many Bollywood celebrities.

So, if you have sufficient cardio workouts by running, jogging, cycling or playing a sport and are only looking for a way to tone your muscles without having to depend on gym equipment, Yoga is definitely the right choice for you. Just make sure that you consult a yoga teacher before starting a new regime, to ensure that you don’t cause yourself an injury. Image Courtesy: Glow Images

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Is Yoga Alone Enough To Keep You Fit?

If you think yoga is only about closing your eyes and relaxing, think again.

Most of us already know that regular yoga sessions can not only reduce stress, but also increase physical strength and flexibility, and improve our mental health.

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Yoga is also often a safer way to exercise compared to any other forms of physical fitness, due to it’s gentle and low-impact movements. As an added bonus, practicing yoga can also make you more aware of your own body, with many yogis consciously choosing to live a healthier lifestyle than their non-yogi counterparts. (Ever notice that most yogis are slim and lean, even if they don’t do any other forms of physical activity?)

But can regular yoga sessions be enough to keep you physically fit overall?

The answer to this question depends not only on your lifestyle, but what your particular goals are. Here, we’ll outline some of the ways in which yoga can keep you physically fit — and some of the drawbacks of focusing on yoga as your sole form of fitness.

Can Help You Lose Weight, If That’s Your Goal

We all know that carrying too much excess weight around can lead to an array of health issues. Yet grueling gym sessions with fast-paced exercises can wear out your joints and muscles, especially if you have limited endurance or joint issues to begin with.

With yoga, however, you’ll burn some calories while building lean muscle and toning. (Sounds good to us!)

Combining yoga sessions with other forms of exercise, and of course — most importantly — a healthy diet, is the best way to achieve a healthy body weight. Plus, certain asanas or postures like bhujangasana (cobra posture) and dhanurasana (bow posture) help strengthen abdominal and thigh muscles and are proven to burn fat in these regions.

In order to lose weight with yoga, however, you’ll need to practice these postures four to five times a week, and you’ll want to merge this with cardio workouts and possibly strength training as well.

More importantly, diet is key — you can do yoga seven days a week, twice a day, and never lose weight if you’re diet is all out of whack.

Adds Muscle Tone

Certain yoga poses are akin to bodyweight exercises, since you’re working your muscles as you try to hold poses for a certain amount of time.

For instance, the paripurna navasana (boat posture) works on your abdominal muscles, hips, and vertebra to strengthen and tone them. Similarly, trikonasana (triangle pose) targets the thigh muscles and shapes them. You can also try other muscle-toning yoga poses like balasana (child’s posture), adho mukha svanasana (downward-facing dog posture), and chaturanga dandasana (four-limbed staff posture).

Instead of lifting weights or doing crunches, certain poses can help sculpt your muscles just as effectively as if you were strength-training in the gym. Keep in mind, however, that practicing yoga will never result in major muscle growth or bulging biceps. If big gains are what you’re after, you’ll have to pick up some heavy weights and put in time at the gym.

Is Excellent For Cross-Training

Practicing yoga poses not increases muscle strength, but it also increases your agility and can even improve your cardio performance. A six-week study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine revealed that yoga techniques improve the body’s work capacity and flexibility overall, and sometimes in unexpected ways.

Another study found that the regular practice of surya namaskar (sun salutation) improved participants’ ability to do push-ups and sit-ups. By increasing muscle strength, yoga allows you to perform other, more vigorous exercises with greater ease.

Several other scientific studies have recognized that yoga can help combat certain lifestyle-related illnesses and improve health by keeping sickness at bay.

Of course, it goes without saying that sculpting your body is merely one aspect of yoga. There are many psychological benefits that yoga offers, including a sense of centredness, calm and relaxation.

Won’t Get You In Shape Instantly

Sculpting your body and improving muscle tone takes time, whether you’re practicing yoga or any other form of physical fitness. However, because it’s a relatively gentle, low-impact form of exercise, it may take longer to see the difference in your body makeup. Additionally, more challenging yoga poses require time and effort to learn — and the more challenging the pose, the greater benefit to your muscles. If you’re looking to get in shape with yoga, be prepared to be patient. A yogi is not born overnight.

Does Not Offer High-Intensity Cardio Benefits

The biggest drawback with yoga is that unless you’re doing some fusion form of aerobic-yoga, it doesn’t offer a huge cardio boost, and can’t replace your standard cardio exercise. Your heart rate will stay pretty stable during a yoga session. On the plus side, you may find that your cardio workouts become easier if you cross-train with yoga.

Will Not Help You Add Muscle Mass

Yoga will help you sculpt long, lean muscles, but generally speaking, these postures alone are not enough to gain mass. If big gains are what you’re after, you’ll have to come up with a solid weight-training routine as well as a diet plan that’s tailored for muscle growth.

That’s not to say yoga isn’t great for your rest days — in fact, incorporating yoga into a bodybuilding routine may help with muscle recovery and promote faster gains — but you won’t become the Hulk with asana alone.

Overall, yoga is an excellent, well-rounded form of exercise that can increase muscle strength and endurance, improve agility, help you lose body-fat and make your other workouts more effective.

And for some people, yoga alone is enough to keep them feeling fit and working towards their fitness goals. For others, a cardio boost and heavier muscle training is needed in order to achieve their desired results.

But whatever it is you’re looking to get with yoga, there’s no denying that this ancient practice can do a body good.

You Asked: Is Yoga Good Exercise?

From CrossFit to Insanity workouts, exercise has lately trended toward the extreme. But physical activity doesn’t always have to be vigorous to be effective. While it may seem mellow compared to most training programs, yoga’s health benefits keep pace—and often outdistance—what many people would call “traditional” forms of exercise.

For starters, research shows regular yoga practice lowers your risk for heart disease and hypertension. Yoga may also lessen symptoms of depression, headaches, diabetes, some forms of cancer and pain-related diseases like arthritis.

Yoga also seems to combat weight gain. One 4-year study from Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found middle-aged adults who practiced yoga at least once a week gained 3 fewer pounds than those who stuck with other forms of exercise. The same study found overweight adults who practice yoga lost 5 pounds, while a non-yoga group gained 13 pounds. Those results held even when the authors accounted for different eating habits.

How can a little bending and stretching do all that? Unlike exercises like running or lifting weights—both of which crank up your heart rate and stimulate your nervous system—yoga does just the opposite. “It puts you in a parasympathetic state, so your heart rate goes down and blood pressure goes down,” says Dr. Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

Field has published an in-depth review of yoga’s potential health benefits. She says the types and varieties of movement involved in yoga stimulate pressure receptors in your skin, which in turn ramp up your brain and body’s vagal activity. Your vagus nerve connects your brain to several of your organs, and it also plays a role in hormone production and release.

“Stress hormones like cortisol decrease as vagal activity increases,” Field says. At the same time, this uptick in vagal activity triggers the release of the hormone serotonin, which helps regulate everything from your mood and appetite to your sleep patterns.

All of this may explain yoga’s research-backed ties to a healthier heart, as well as its ability to slash your stress, improve your mood, quell your appetite and help you sleep more soundly, Field says. When you consider the health perks linked to each of those brain and body benefits—lower inflammation, lower body weight, lower disease risk—you could make an argument that few activities are as good for you as yoga.

One thing yoga doesn’t do, though, is burn loads of calories. Even hot forms of yoga like Bikram result in modest energy expenditures—roughly the number of calories you’d burn during a brisk walk.

While more and more research suggests calories shouldn’t be your sole focus when it comes to diet and exercise, there’s no question that running, swimming, lifting weights and other more-vigorous forms of exercise are great for your brain and body.

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Yoga is unquestionably good for you, Field says, but it should be done in tandem with traditional forms of physical activity—not in place of them.

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As for weight loss? “Sweat does not equal number of calories expended,” Matthews says. This is a misconception that goes far beyond just yoga, she adds. While you may lose a pound or so after hot yoga because you’ve sweat out water, once you rehydrate, you’ll gain it right back.

A lot of people do find that hot yoga is a great stress reliever and a welcome mental and physical challenge.

“Hot yoga is stress relief disguised as a workout,” Samantha Scupp, yoga instructor and founder of Heatwise yoga studio in Brooklyn, tells SELF. “An hour of deep sweat, moving to music in ways that feel good and release tension in your body, stretching everything out, and maximizing blood circulation—all of it puts you in a kind of trance. It’s better than any drug.”

Some people also just like that it’s hard, Matthews says. “One of the things I hear quite frequently is they like the physical and mental challenge. There’s some element of a challenge that appeals to people, and that can be appealing for a lot of different workouts,” she says. I can relate to this. One of the main reasons I run half marathons is because it’s a challenge, and there’s something particularly satisfying about pushing through the discomfort and coming out on the other side. (I’m sure there are plenty of people who look at that and wonder why the hell I’m putting myself through it—actually, I know people wonder that because I’ve had friends legitimately ask.)

Being able to push through a tough hot yoga class can also help people feel more prepared to face the ups and downs of daily life, Scupp says. “Knowing you can breathe through the discomfort of a challenging pose while you’re dripping sweat is something people carry with them throughout their day. The practice can manifest in all kinds of beneficial ways: breathing through the F train breaking down, negotiating your way through hoards of people in midtown on your way to work, or taking a moment to pause before you react to something.”

One physical benefit experts tend to agree on is that hot yoga may be better at increasing flexibility than regular yoga.

It’s true that it’s best to stretch your muscles when they’re warm. “We know that a warm muscle is more flexible and we have better flexibility benefits by stretching a warm muscle,” exercise physiologist Dustin Slivka, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., associate professor in the School of Health and Kinesiology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, tells SELF. “That’s why you should do a general warm-up before flexibility training. You’re essentially doing that in hot yoga, since you’re stretching in the heat.”

Matthews notes that while the connection between heat and increased flexibility in hot yoga specifically has not been studied extensively (research does show flexibility benefits of practicing yoga in general), she confirms anecdotally that people find they can move deeper into poses in a hot or heated class.

She also cautions not to stretch past your limits. “Just be mindful in a heated environment that the muscles and tendons will be more pliable, so you have to also be more cognizant to not overexert, force, push, or prod yourself too deep into a posture.”

I was surprised to find that hot yoga is generally deemed pretty safe—as long as you’re taking some precautions.

While the idea of working out in a very hot room sounds dangerous, experts suggest that hot yoga probably is low-risk for most people.

“The data that I’ve seen shows that the core body temperatures people are getting up to during hot yoga is not any more than what somebody would get up to running for 30 or 40 minutes on a treadmill in a gym,” says Slivka, whose own research primarily focuses on the effects of exercise in extreme environments. “When we exercise intensely, we produce heat, and our bodies are pretty good at dealing with it,” he adds. The difference with hot yoga is that the exercise is less intense and the heat is external. “The outcome tends to be the same in terms of overall temperature.”

6 Hot Yoga Rumors, Debunked

You’re crammed in a 100-degree room next to 50 gasping, perspiring men and women, twisting your body into impossible pretzel-like contortions. Sweat drips off your bare flesh and onto the soaked and spongy mat beneath you, forming a small puddle. The room is suffocating, and a wave of dizziness passes over you. This scenario may sound like a form of cruel and unusual torture, but it just so happens to be one of the hottest fitness trends—hot yoga.

A form of yoga typically consisting of 26 poses and two breathing exercises practiced in a room heated to 95-100 degrees with 40 percent humidity, hot yoga has lured a robust clientele hailing from all corners of the globe. It’s easy to see why: hot yoga promises a number of compelling health benefits, alleging to cure everything from back pain to high blood pressure to anxiety. And, a 90-minute session is purported to scorch a whopping 1,000 calories, all while flushing out toxins and increasing flexibility.

RELATED: What You Need To Know About Bikram Yoga

“Hot yoga is provocative,” says Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, certified Kundalini Yoga instructor and author of the book Your Brain on Yoga. “You’re in this hot environment, pushing yourself to your physical limits…it’s this whole unique, provocative scene, and I think people are drawn to that.”

But does hot yoga really stand up to its claims, or is this sweat-drenched practice too good to be true? We untangle the truth behind hot yoga’s purported benefits.

Rumor: Hot Yoga provides a harder cardio workout than regular aerobic exercise.
Reality? False.

The heated environment in hot yoga classes is thought to speed up heart rate, giving you a more rigorous aerobic workout. But can a hot yoga session replace more traditional forms of cardio?

In a groundbreaking July 2013 study conducted by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), researchers examined the effects of hot yoga on heart rate and core temperature. The findings? Hot yoga might not be as hard as you think, says Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., FACSM, Chief Science Officer for ACE.

“Despite the subjects’ perceiving the workout to be so much more challenging, in terms of the heat’s effect on heart rate and core temperature, it really wasn’t much different than a class performed in a thermally neutral environment,” Bryant says.

In other words, individuals don’t experience much of a spike in heart rate between a regular yoga class and a hot yoga class. So although the heat makes the workout feel more challenging, you’re not necessarily working any harder.

Rumor: Hot Yoga offers stress relief.
Reality? True.

Stress reduction is one of the largest benefits of any yoga practice, heated or otherwise, Khalsa says. “Stress reduction is extremely valuable because it allows people to cope with their lives on a day to day basis, improving their overall wellbeing,” he says. “What’s more, chronic stress is a very powerful risk factor for most major diseases.”

Rumor: Hot Yoga cleanses your body of toxins.
Answer? False.

The combination of twisting postures and sweat in Hot Yoga is thought to help the body flush away toxins and waste products. However, this notion of toxin release is vague and unfounded, Khalsa says. “From a physiological perspective, no one knows what ‘flushing out toxins’ actually means. What’s being released, what’s being cleansed, what’s being purified…none of this is really clear,” Khalsa says.

Rumor: Hot Yoga increases flexibility.
Reality: True.

Hot yoga promises to loosen the muscles and increase flexibility. Experts agree that there’s no denying this claim: “This is probably the biggest benefit we see,” Bryant concurs. “The heat certainly helps the individual warm up the muscles, joints and ligaments so that you’ll be more effective with any type of flexibility or stretching type exercises. Over time, you should see improvements in flexibility.”

Rumor: Hot Yoga delivers a massive calorie burn.
Reality: False.

Some hot yoga classes claim to torch 1,000 calories in a single 90-minute session. “That is a gross exaggeration,” Bryant says. “Most disciplines of yoga—from your mildest forms to your most intense power yoga classes—will have a modest calorie burn ranging from about 3 to 7 calories per minute.” So if you’re assuming that your Bikram class is burning the caloric equivalent of a cheeseburger and fries, you want might to reevaluate your calorie counting.

Rumor: Hot Yoga is a great tool for weight loss.
Reality: True and false.

As we’ve seen, from a calorie-burn perspective, hot yoga isn’t as effective as cardiovascular-intensive forms of exercise like running or cycling. However, yoga may lead to weight loss indirectly—by influencing practitioners to make better food choices. “What comes out of a yoga practice is the development of mind-body awareness,” Khalsa says. “When you practice yoga after a while, you smoke a cigarette or excessively drink or overeat, and you are very keenly aware of the effect of that on your body. Yoga, in that sense, is a practice that can encourage people to desire better behavioral choices and lifestyle choices.”

So will practicing yoga alone cause you to shed pounds? Not necessarily. But it may cultivate mindful eating, improve quality of sleep and combat stress, which will in turn lead to weight loss. At the end of the day, both Khalsa and Bryant say that the benefits of a hot yoga practice (increased flexibility, stress relief, etc.) vastly outweigh the relative negatives (namely, lack of calorie burn).

“There are so many reasons why one should be physically active other than weight loss. If it’s something you really enjoy and it provides other benefits, there’s no reason you should give it up,” Bryant says.

Khalsa agrees: “Yoga is a practice which can encourage people to desire better behavioral choices and lifestyle choices. It’s basically a way of maintaining your body in its optimum functioning state. And that leads to better well being, better quality of life and, ultimately, better health.”

Found in: Featured Article, Weight Loss

Can Hot Yoga Help You Run Better in the Heat?

Even the toughest runners can find summer running challenging, with temperatures climbing into the 90s — and, for much of the country, added humidity on top of that. It doesn’t take long to realize that what works in the winter doesn’t work in the summer — and you need to adopt some basic hot weather running strategies, such as hydrating more, running before the heat of the day sets in, wearing the right clothing and paying attention to signs of heat exhaustion.

Runners quickly learn that their bodies need time to acclimatize to the heat. What feels brutal on the first hot day in May doesn’t seem quite as bad come June. The more you exercise in the heat, the better your body is able to handle it. With the popularity of hot yoga, we started to wonder if exposure to the heat in yoga class could help runners acclimatize to running in the heat.

READ MORE > THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO RUNNING IN HEAT & HUMIDITY

Hot yoga is performed in a room with the temperature set between 100–105°F. It can be anything from Bikram to heated vinyasa flow, and students are often left drenched in sweat by the end of class. So, can sweating it out a few times a week in a yoga studio year long make you a better runner when summer comes?

Casey Mace, an assistant professor of public health at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, has studied the effects of yoga — and, in particular, hot yoga. Though hot yoga is gaining in popularity, there is still not a lot of solid research about its benefits, she says. Studies that examine it tend to have small sample sizes. “There is some evidence that athletes can be acclimatized to heat in other ways, so making the jump that hot yoga could help is not unreasonable,” Mace says.

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT HEAT ACCLIMATIZATION

A recent consensus statement on training and competing in the heat made several recommendations for athletes competing in warm-weather climates. One of the key recommendations was engaging in heat acclimatization sessions for at least 60 minutes a day for 1–2 weeks before a competition. That means running — or doing some sort of exercise — in the same climate you will be competing in.

This recommendation makes sense because your body needs to get used to sweating a lot more. In fact, spending time sweating in a hot yoga studio sounds similar to the sauna training that’s long been popular among ultra-marathoners who compete at Badwater, the 135-mile trek through Death Valley. There is a page devoted to sauna training to prepare for Badwater, and plenty of blogs where runners talk about how they use the sauna to get ready for the extreme heat the race throws at runners. While this is anecdotal, not research-backed, it seems the running community is giving it a try until it hears otherwise.

NO MATTER WHAT, HYDRATE

As Mace has found in her research, hot yoga is not a cure-all for runners hoping to beat the summer heat by tapping into their zen side (and becoming better sweaters). But she acknowledges there could be something to the heat acclimatization benefit it may offer all athletes. “Could you imagine football players in Louisiana doing hot yoga to tolerate their playing conditions better? It is certainly an interesting idea,” she says.

If you try hot yoga, go slow and take breaks as needed. Make sure to drink water before, during and after class. Part of what you are trying to teach your body is how to be efficient with sweating — so give it what it needs.

You may just find that, compared to the heat of a yoga studio, summer heat isn’t quite so bad.

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Weight training may tighten and shorten the muscles while yoga lengthens and builds functional strength. It teaches you how to use this strength effectively so you develop muscle tone that not only looks good but are also usable in the real world. Just a great way to gain strength and flexibility at the same time.
Yoga also immediately reveals and addresses the muscle imbalances that often lead to injury. By its very nature, yoga helps restore the body to balance and symmetry. Not only does yoga decrease the risk of injury, it also can increase your muscle endurance and pain threshold.
You will learn correct breathing techniques that teach you how to have better control of your breathing and allow you to use the breathe more efficiently as well as using it to move through range of motion. Your body will work synergistically, every joint, muscle and fiber improving all of your bodies functions and well being.
Practicing yoga also enhances your focus, improves your mental clarity and increases your performance in every aspect of your life.
We are not saying weight training is bad for you. In fact weight training is an important part of an overall fitness program. You just need to understand how to train with weights in a functional way, follow a well balanced stretching routine and let’s not forget deep relaxation (meditation). That sounds like a lot of work but here is a great solution. Combining Yoga with weights. This hybrid does not only go together well, but it also complements each other perfectly.

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Yoga or weights? Weights or yoga?

Can you incorporate both? Are you better doing one than the other? Will one result in better sculpting your arms, legs, back?

And most importantly for those of you reading a website dedicated to running (and to me!)…will one make me a better runner than the other because I only have so much time to dedicate to cross training!

For years, I waffled between the two. Some weeks I’d include both, other weeks I’d do one…and let’s be honest as a runner there were too many weeks were I did none. I wanted to see results to decide which to do, but as you might know…you gotta be consistent in anything for results.But I was conflicted!

Because don’t we all have one friend who got shredded doing CrossFit and cut time off their PR…and another who went to yoga got lean, toned and yeah cut time off their PR. Both are positive only their way is right and we find ourselves trying a little of both, but committed to none.

Which as always leads me back to the one thing I do know: we are all an experiment of one.

But even an experiment of one wants to know how to spend her time.

I don’t need anyone to push me with running, but the gym is a different story! Tell me the benefits to my running and I’m far more likely to stick with it. After all, the second I realized PT worked to keep any IT Band issues at bay, I’ve done my moves religiously for years!

All right so what are some of the arguments for and against each…

Nervous System

Improving performance is all about balancing stress and recovery, both of which are controlled by the Nervous System.

Yoga
I know that yoga is portrayed as calm and serene and I do often get that feeling…but let’s be honest if you’re doing a serious class it’s a sweaty nasty mess with lots of loud breathing and thoughts of kill me now.

However, most importantly is that when you are in certain poses your muscles relax and this creates more room for blood to flow, thus attracting more oxygen to your muscles. Yoga also puts a great deal of focus on breathing which seems to naturally elicit a relaxation response (parasympathetic nervous system), something runners need to combat the physical stress of running.

Both of these result in healing and injury prevention. I also think you can’t overlook the community and connection that is often found in yoga.

Weights
Weights are going to further stress the body, which is great for strength and muscle building, but maybe not ideal if you’re trying to train for a marathon and need a workout to deload.

Winner
Yoga is better in this case for runners because we often have high cortisol from stressing our bodies. Yoga will allow you to bring that back down and get calm in order to prevent burnout and over training.

Should runners do weights or yoga? Is it possible to do both? #runchat

Building Stamina

“fatigue does seem to ‘travel’ from one muscle group to another, and mainly, from upper to lower body” from School of Human Kinetics and Recreation at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada. Which goes to say, work that upper body to run longer!

Yoga
Yoga improves stamina through a combination of physical and mental benefits. Ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes believes the increased utilization of oxygen and better breathing through learning to use the diaphragm has benefited his running. Additionally, holding yoga poses allows us to work on our stabilizing muscles that might be neglected in running and strength to hold a better posture, which means better running form.

Weights
Surprise, weight lifting can also improve your running stamina and maybe not just in the way you think. You can do light weights with high reps on your upper body to build endurance for arm swing and posture, but going heavy on your lower body is actually the biggest benefit.

A study of elite Danish cyclists showed that lifting 70-90% of their 1 rep maximum improved strength, speed and movement economy (less fatigue), while also losing body fat.

Winner
Tie, unless losing body fat is your goal in which case weights might work faster.

However it should be noted that a recent study showed stretching after lifting weights can increase your power by up to 30% in the coming sessions

Combining Both In Your Routine

Personally, I still believe that I can benefit from both. Now it is a matter of determining how to enjoy both activities in a way that benefits my body. After doing some research I found what makes the most sense to me…since yoga is often about more static poses and longer contractions, weight lifting sessions should be about quicker movements. It should also include movements that you do not get from the yoga practice itself, which would largely be pulling movements such as pull ups, lat pulls, rows or deadlifts.

What type of yoga?
If you’re doing heavy lifting then maybe a restorative or easy flow class is more ideal to keep your total body balanced. If you’re doing high rep light weights for stamina, then maybe you’d enjoy the push of a power yoga class.What about same day?
If you’re trying to fit all your cross training in on the same day, it’s definitely possible to incorporate both. Use the yoga session as a warm up prior to your lifting and you’ll find it ensures the shoulder joints are lubricated and working correctly. Then try a short cool down after lifting.

Yoga with weights?
Ideally…no. Barre classes do a light version of this, but really the two are meant to be different and provide different benefits.

Many yogi’s also love to tout the philosophy that “Yoga helps everything, but nothing helps yoga”.

Which is true is some respects, but I can’t say that I fully agree. My good cardio allows me to move through the poses without being winded and I know my weight lifting has helped my arms become less resistant to fatigue in many poses…but yes yoga has also improved every area of my fitness.

My Personal Results?
With this knee injury, I wasn’t able to do a lot of the normal yoga poses for quite awhile (or run obviously post surgery) which turned out to be a good thing because it forced me to re-examine my weight lifting routine. I committed to a coach, who would ensure that I did more than my normal couple sets here and there, who would push me to do more than I wanted and try new exercises.

I’ve seen more strength progress from my lifting which has actually helped me achieve some of the yoga poses I previously struggled with. I’ll keep you posted on the running benefits as I return from knee surgery…but pre-surgery yoga certainly helped open up my stride, prevent hip and knee pain.

Example Schedule?
So you want to do it all and train for a half marathon? Here’s how that could work:

Monday: REST or restorative yoga
Tuesday: 5 mile easy run
Wednesday: 10 min sun salutations, 30 min full body weights, 10 min floor work
Thursday: 5 miles with speed work
Friday: 10 min sun salutations, 30 min full body weights, 10 min floor work
Saturday: 3 miles easy or biking
Sunday: 10 mile Long Run

Floor work refers to doing twists, core work, pigeon pose and other moves to open hips.

Where do you stand on yoga vs weightlifting? Do you incorporate both?

Have I convinced you yet to try yoga or at least not spend 100% of your time running?

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15 Reasons Yoga Is Better Than The Gym

Some people see it as a question…yoga or the gym — which is better? Is there really a question in there?

There are about a gazillion reasons a yoga class is better. And here are 15 of them:

1. Yoga benefits the mind, body and spirit.

Yoga will help tone your body but while it’s doing that, it also helps you to be truly in the moment and infuses your spirit with positive energy. A gym workout is focused primarily on improving your body’s physical condition.

2. Yoga benefits your full body—externally and internally.

The twisting, stretching and folding of a yoga practice are good for the digestive system, the circulatory system, the lymph system and more. It’s a great way to detox the body and can improve your cardiovascular system. And all this while developing stronger muscles. A gym workout is focused just on strengthening muscles and boosting cardio.

3. Yoga teaches acceptance.

Yoga helps you believe you’re perfect the way you are—with your strengths and your weaknesses. It’s true what they say — yoga is not about self-improvement, it’s about self-acceptance. Gym classes, especially boot camp style classes, are more likely to have you feeling like a failure if you can’t do everything.

4. Yoga is about focusing on yourself.

Many yoga studios don’t even have mirrors so you’re forced to think about where your body is and what each muscle and limb is doing, whereas gym classes have mirrors for you to see—and worry about—what everyone else is doing.

5. Yoga will make you lean.

By stretching your muscles as you’re strengthening them, your body will take on a leaner appearance. A gym workout filled with weights will cause your muscles to bulk up.

6. Yoga is more efficient.

Yoga relies on your own—your entire body—for strengthening. Gym classes use weights and other equipment. Through different asanas, your full body becomes toned and stronger by using your own entire body weight as ‘weights’. By using only weights or other equipment, muscles are isolated and have to be worked individually in order to benefit, which takes a whole lot more time.

7. You can do yoga anywhere.

Yoga is a different experience in a yoga studio, but you can easily practice yoga at home, outside or in small spaces. All you need is about 6 feet by 4 feet and you have your own yoga studio. A gym workout requires more equipment and more space.

8. Yoga is kinder to the body.

This does not mean yoga is not intense. Just ask anyone who practices Ashtanga. Yoga builds heat and works your muscles, but you’re doing what your body allows you to do and not attempting to lift weights and pound on the joints—both of which can cause injury. Yoga also stretches as you move through the postures and a good yoga practice builds on itself to prepare the body for the next position.

9. Yoga eases your aches and pains.

A gym workout increases them. Yoga slowly stretches muscles and opens the energy channels of the body. The increased flexibility keeps muscles and joints lubricated and healthy. Weights and treadmill can cause strain which leads to soreness and injuries.

10. Yoga helps you breathe easier.

During times of stress, it’s easy to forget to breathe—really breathe, and not just shallow breaths. Without deep breaths, it’s harder to think clearly and fatigue can set in. Yoga focuses on the breath so that when you need it most, those deep breaths are the norm.

11. Yoga is calming.

We move through practice with a calm, relaxed expression. No grunting, no dropping weights, no clenched teeth or grimacing expressions like you see from gym-goers. The overall intention is to release tension throughout the body and mind.

12. Yoga reduces stress.

Many yoga classes include meditation, or at least Savasana. It gives you a chance to clear the mind of the stresses of the day. With practice, stressful situations can be dealt with more easily and overall stress levels decrease. The competitive nature of a gym along with the loud music and bright lights is more likely to increase your stress.

13. Everyone can practice yoga.

No matter your age or your health, you can practice yoga. Yoga has even been found to help people who have health ailments ranging from Parkinson’s to cancer. Gym workouts, in general, are not designed to be therapeutic, or senior-friendly.

14. Yoga improves concentration.

During a yoga practice, you focus on the breath, the posture and the gaze. Outside distractions are tuned out. While you can try and do this at the gym, this focus and silence is not exactly encouraged with all the other distractions around, like loud music, TVs, etc.

15. Yogis rock.

We’re a happy bunch! Wouldn’t you rather be around smiling, happy people? You’ll get to be in an environment where people accept your, and everyone else’s, curves and edges. There’s no talk of who held what pose longer, no sense of competition. It’s always good vibes all around!

Are there things you would add to this list? Let us know!

Yoga is more than a powerful way to relax — it can transform your body, says Travis Eliot, a registered yoga teacher in Santa Monica.

“Yoga has the potential to increase fat loss, develop muscle tone, and build flexibility, leading to a more lean-looking physique,” he says.

If flexibility and balance are what you’re after, even the gentlest forms of yoga will do the trick. Many types also help you build muscle strength and endurance. If you want to work on your cardio fitness, yoga can do that, too, as long as you opt for a more rigorous form.

Hatha, Integral, and Iyengar yoga. Choose one of these gentle forms if you want to target flexibility, balance, strength, and relaxation. In a recent study, people who did Hatha yoga for 8 weeks had better balance, improved flexibility, a boost in endurance, and an upsurge in strength.

Hatha yoga is filled with poses that strengthen your chest, abs, and core. “Many poses, like the Forearm Plank and the Boat Pose, build tremendous core strength,” Eliot says. “Others, like the Plank and Chaturanga, build strength throughout your upper body.” And the Warrior III and Half Moon poses are great for improving your flexibility and balance.

For even bigger gains, hold your poses for 30 seconds.

Power, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Bikram, and Hot yoga. Try a more intense type for a more dramatic transformation, Eliot says. “If you’re looking for muscle tone and fat loss, Power yoga is best,” he says.

Expect to do longer strings of poses with fewer breaks. You’ll move more and do more challenging poses. If you choose Bikram or Hot yoga, you’ll sweat more, because the room is kept at a higher temperature.

You’ll reap the benefits of the gentler types of yoga — flexibility, balance, strength, and relaxation — plus you’ll get a cardio workout. Moves like Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B boost your heart rate and build stamina.

One footnote of sorts: If your goal is to build muscles, weightlifting will give you better results. If you want to lose weight, good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are also key. “Often someone who practices yoga regularly starts to make more optimal choices when it comes to being healthy,” Eliot says.

Yoga Really *Can* Tone Your Body (Especially If You Do These 6 Poses)

Start in mountain pose (tadasana) by standing with your feet slightly apart or your big toes together and a small space between your heels. Ground down evenly through your feet, lift up through the crown of your head, and lengthen through all four sides of your waist. Raise your arms and reach up through your fingertips while releasing your shoulder blades down your back. Sit down as if sitting into a chair (hence the name), shifting the weight toward your heels. Maintain the length in your torso while holding the pose for 5-8 breaths.

5. Crescent Lunge
Anjaneyasana

“This is a dynamic, full-body posture that creates functional flexibility, core strength, and stability and toning for the legs, butt, and upper body,” says Bethany Lyons, founder and CEO of Lyons Den Power Yoga.

To create a lunge position, step your right foot out in front of you with a 90-degree bend in the front knee and the front thigh bone parallel to the floor. Stack the back heel over the ball-mound of the back foot. Drop the tailbone down toward the floor by engaging your lower abdominal muscles. Sweep the arms overhead, shoulder-width distance with the palms facing one another. Let your pinky fingers spiral slightly inward. Engage your legs by pressing your back heel behind you and your front knee forward, paying particular attention to lift the quadriceps muscles of the back leg. Hold for 10 deep breaths.

6. Side Plank Pose
Vasisthasana

“This is another full-body, dynamic posture that generates a lot of heat as it forces the muscles to work together to create the alignment and strength necessary to hold the pose. It delivers toning for the arms, back, shoulders, core, and legs,” Lyons says.

From a high push-up position, bring the inner edges of the feet to touch and then spin your heels to the right to come onto the right-side edge of the foot. Keep the legs glued together as one and the feet fully flexed. Press down into the right hand and sweep the left hand all the way up to the sky, taking your gaze with you. The shoulders, hips, and feet should all be stacked for stability and power. Engage the core muscles and open the chest. Paying particular attention to not let the hips sink down toward the floor, take 5 breaths and then transition through high plank position to the other side. Repeat 2-3 times, taking a rest between each set.

Ready to get down (dog)?

Yoga definitely can count as strength training and can be used to tone your muscles. But remember that there’s so much more to yoga than strength, and even if you’re practicing every single day, it’s better to incorporate yoga into your regimen than to ditch everything else altogether.

And if you’re a beginner, make sure you’re learning the poses safely. “For most, the safest and most effective way is to take classes with a well-trained and qualified instructor who can not only offer guidance on the best poses to target various areas of the body, but can also help adjust poses so they are safe and appropriate for each individual,” Pearlman says.

Gabrielle Kassel is an athleisure-wearing, adaptogen-taking, left-swiping, CrossFitting, New York-based writer with a knack for thinking about wellness-as-lifestyle. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books, bench-pressing, or practicing hygge. Follow her on Instagram.

Yoga can transform your body at any age! And, although almost everyone knows about the mental and emotional benefits of this meditative practice, yoga offers so much more! What you may not be aware of is that yoga can change your body, prevent injury and disease, and can even help you recover faster.

This post may contain affiliate links which means when you click on a link and then purchase any item on that site, there is no additional cost to you but I may receive a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Studies have found that achieving your health goals is about 80% dependent upon what you eat and 20% dependent on your fitness routine. So, focusing on diet without exercise will only get you so far. Therefore, finding the right lifestyle balance is vital to sustained health and fitness.

Why Yoga?

Yoga is a wonderful way to transform your body because it encompasses both a dedicated fitness program and inspires healthy changes! So, when you start practicing yoga, you’ll soon realize that yoga is a lifestyle. And, this is a surefire way to get the biggest payoff from your efforts! Yoga can transform your body and have you glowing from the inside out in no time!

9 Main Styles of Yoga

From Hatha, to Bikram, to Vinyasa, all yoga styles have their own unique characteristics. And, admittedly, it can get a bit confusing. So, let’s break it down.

1. Anusara

This style of yoga is based on the belief that we all are all intrinsically good. Anusara encourages students to integrate body-mind with heart and spirit and deeply connect with themselves.

The physical postures are centered around the Universal Principles of Alignment. So, students strengthen the body while also learning to appreciate their intrinsic goodness and the goodness of others.

2. Hatha Yoga.

Hatha yoga is commonly practiced in the West. And, it’s what people generally think of as yoga. It’s a series of postures that help you loosen your muscles. In turn, it will leave you feeling calm and centered.

Hatha yoga combines a series of basic movements with breathing. And, through the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises) you are ultimately preparing the body for meditation. You can expect to attain physical strength, physiological health, and emotional well-being.

3. Vinyasa

This style of yoga consists of a series of poses that flow smoothly from one into another. Vinyasa classes offer a variety of postures and no two classes are ever alike. And, it’s different from other styles of yoga, like Bikram or Ashtanga Yoga, which feature the same set of ordered postures in every class.

4. Power Yoga

Power yoga is a high intensity practice that builds muscle. Some consider consider power yoga to be superficial gym-like style of yoga practice. However, its closely modelled on the Ashtanga method.

Benefits of a power yoga class include increased stamina, strength, and flexibility, as well as stress relief. Teachers create their own sequences, and students focus on synchronizing their breath with the poses.

5. Ashtanga

Ashtanga yoga describes a series of specific postures combined with a breathing technique. In that way, it’s comparable to vinyasa yoga. And, similar to Bikram yoga, the exact same postures are performed in a particular sequence.

But, when you walk into class, be prepared to sweat! This is a physically demanding style of yoga, so make sure to bring your well-designed yoga mat and towel!

6. Bikram

Also known as “hot yoga,” Bikram yoga is a set of 26 challenging poses performed in a room heated to a high temperature. In your Bikram class, you will sweat like never before. So, again, be sure to bring a quality yoga mat and towel.

Similar to Ashtanga, a Bikram class always follows the same sequence of postures (although the Bikram sequence is not the same as the Ashtanga). This is a highly challenging class, especially due to the pretty extreme heat. But, remember, you can always modify any pose and work at your own particular fitness level.

7. Iyengar

Iyengar can be described as a meticulous style of yoga with focused attention on finding the proper alignment in a posture. And, in order to help each student find the correct alignment, an Iyengar studio offers a wide array of yoga props. This includes blankets, chairs, bolsters, and blocks.

8. Restorative

Restorative yoga classes, commonly described as yin yoga, also use yoga props, like blocks, to get students into passive poses so the body can experience the pose, and its benefits, without having to exert any effort. And, this can be a great way to come back into your practice after an injury.

9. Kundalini Yoga

The first time I practiced Kundalini yoga, I was in my 20’s and living in Los Angeles. And, boy, did it have a major effect on me! I still rely on the breathing techniques I learned in my very first class to handle stress and anxiety.

But, don’t worry, you can still expect to get into your best plank or downward dog. However, this style of yoga focuses on using your breath to harness the energy within you. Through meditation, chanting, and singing, Kundalini yoga promotes stillness and self-awareness.

5 Ways That Yoga Can Transform Your Body

Yoga can transform your body at any age. That’s because yoga helps you develop muscle tone, builds flexibility, protects you from injury, prevents weight gain, and gives you balance and mobility!

1. Yoga Strengthens Your Muscles

Are you watching your diet, going for walks, or hitting the elliptical machine, but not getting the results you desire? Have you been wondering why what worked in the past is not as effective now?

There’s most likely a simple reason for this. You’re probably not doing enough strength training! Toned muscles are a byproduct of strength-training. And, strength training builds muscle mass.

Unfortunately, lean muscle mass naturally decreases as we age. In other words, if you don’t use it, you lose it! But, practicing yoga can transform your body by toning and strengthening your muscles.

Other Benefits

  • develops strong bones
  • gives your metabolism a boost
  • helps you manage pain
  • prevents weight gain
  • lowers blood pressure

Beginner Poses to Build Muscle

  • Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  • Forearm Plank (Phalakasana)
  • Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)

2. Yoga Increases Flexibility

Flexibility becomes increasingly important as we get older. That’s because our bodies stiffen which results in aches and pains, injury, and fatigue. According to research, “At least half of the age-related changes to muscles, bones and joints are caused by disuse.”

Yoga is a complete mind-body workout. It combines stretching with breathing, and therefore, makes you more flexible. And, besides keeping you limber, it helps you release tension trapped in your body and your mind.

Regular yoga practice increases flexibility because yoga focuses heavily on muscle elasticity. And, stretching your muscles helps you to stay healthy and prevents injury. In addition, better flexibility improves movement, but also promotes blood circulation, lowers your risk of arthritis, stroke, and heart disease.

Other Benefits

  • stimulates the nervous system
  • improves blood circulation
  • helps lessen stress and fatigue
  • relieves backaches

Beginner Poses to Increase Flexibility

  • Half Pigeon Pose (Beginner Poses to Build Muscle)
  • Child’s Pose (Balasana)
  • Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)

3. Yoga Prevents Injury

Injury can occur when muscle tension negatively impacts your range of motion. That’s because tightness in your muscles or joints is a common cause of chronic injury.

In addition, if you start to favor one side of your body due to an injury, you may be putting added pressure on the muscles and joints on the favored side. So, this is another easy way to injure yourself.

And, there is always that slight risk of injury when you’re active, especially as you get older.

Some common injuries are:

  • Hip pain
  • Muscle pulls
  • Sprained ankle
  • Shoulder injury
  • Knee injury
  • Shin splints
  • Neck strain
  • Low back strain
  • Plantar fasciitis

However, yoga has been shown to increase joint range of motion while elongating muscles. And, as restrictions in muscle or joint tissue are a common cause of chronic injury, yoga can help prevent pulls, sprains, or fractures. Yoga can be beneficial to your recovery as well.

For instance, a January 2107 study on yoga treatment for chronic non‐specific low back pain found that many people are proactively practicing yoga to improve back pain. And, there was evidence to suggest that “there was low‐certainty evidence that yoga produced small to moderate improvements in back‐related function at three to four months.”

At its core, yoga changes the way you approach everything in life. So, instead of forcing things, you will learn to move with ease. And, this in itself will prevent injuries and increase overall flexibility.

Other Benefits

  • elongates muscles
  • eliminates pain, stiffness, limited range
  • strengthens weak abdominals to support low back
  • develops strong ankles and flexible toes
  • maintains flexible neck muscles
  • improves balance

Beginner Poses to Prevent Injury

  • Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
  • Rabbit (Sasangasana)
  • Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

4. Yoga Prevents Weight Gain

I’ve been an avid runner since I can remember. And, when yoga first showed up on my radar, I was reluctant to exchange a good run for yoga class. I wanted to get the highest caloric burn from my activity, and tone and strengthen at the same time. But, I was hesitant to believe that yoga would afford me those same results.

However, after an injury, I began to view yoga differently. I was forced to hang up my running sneakers and heal my body. And, during that time, my yoga practice was instrumental in changing my lifestyle in ways that running never could!

And, you can get a kick butt workout at yoga, depending on which style you choose. But, the greater advantage is that you will naturally begin to make healthy lifestyle choices. So, because of this, not only does yoga transform your body, but it has a powerful impact on your well-being.

Beth A. Lewis, Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Kinesiology in Minneapolis sums it up perfectly. “Many yoga practices burn fewer calories than traditional exercise (jogging, brisk walking); however, yoga can increase one’s mindfulness and the way one relates to their body. So, individuals will become more aware of what they are eating and make better food choices.”

Other Benefits

  • detoxifies organs
  • releases endorphins to improve mood
  • regulates metabolic rate

Beginner Poses to Lose Weight

  • Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
  • Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II)
  • Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

5. Yoga Improves Balance and Mobility

Do you realize that your ability to balance and avoid falling starts to decline at about age 40? And, this increases the likelihood of getting injured. That’s why having good balance is so important.

And, although balance is the result of a strong body, having strength and flexibility will only take you so far. In other words, you cannot align your postures properly if your energy and your mind are not in balance as well. This requires that you turn inward and become still. Therefore, yoga can help you achieve greater concentration and mindfulness.

In turn, your daily life will improve. So, along with better balance and stronger muscles, yoga improves confidence. And, we can all use an extra dose of courage now and then!

Other Benefits

  • helps you stay centered
  • prevents falls and injuries
  • improves focus and concentration
  • increases confidence levels

Beginner Poses for Balance

  • Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
  • Chair (Utkatasana)
  • Lord of the Dance Pose (Natarajasana)

Doing yoga everyday will transform your body and change your lifestyle for the better. And, don’t be surprised when you decide to switch out a bowl of ice-cream for a smoothie, or when you turn down that second glass of wine. Yoga will inspire you to create a healthy lifestyle. However, you’ll never know exactly what wonderful surprises are in store for you until you commit to regular yoga practice.

Melissa Damiani is a wife, a mom to three fur babies, and a full-time lifestyle blogger. She decided in midlife that she was finally going to do things on her terms. She left a successful teaching career of 20 years to pursue her passions. And, in just a few years, she was able to create her ideal life! She started her blog because she was inspired to share her journey with you. Her lifestyle blog, Gratitude Grace Glamour, is a community for people who want to learn, grow, and make positive changes. You can also find her on Pinterest, and other social media platforms, where she shares her love of meditation, yoga, and spirituality.

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Yoga vs weight lifting

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