If you’d like to be long, strong and lean…….
Many yoga postures, or asanas involve supporting body weight with our arms or legs much in the same way as press ups or squats. Poses are held and the muscles involved gradually become stronger so that we are able to support our weight for a longer period of time which also builds endurance. You may think that yoga cannot possibly have the same effect on muscles as pumping iron at the gym but you’d be surprised at the strength required to hold some of the poses.
There is no doubt that this guy is extremely strong; to support your entire body weight on one hand like this takes years of dedication and practice. However, even yoga novices will notice a big difference in their strength and also endurance after just a few week of practice. With yoga you also work out your entire body in one go; it’s not like going to the gym where you have to wait around for equipment or move from piece to piece – you just need you!
Practically all yoga involves you having your core muscles engaged as they are needed to stabilise your body as you move through the various postures. If you have core strength you will greatly reduce your risk of suffering from back pain and you will also find that your posture improves and all physical activity becomes easier.
At the university of california researchers carried out trials, over a period of 8 weeks, in which participants did 4 sessions of yoga each week. at the end of this time musclar strength had increased by as much as 31% and muscular endurance by 57%
Although yoga will not make you bulk up like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his hey day it will improve muscle tone and definition; the ‘yoga body’ is traditionally defined as ‘long and lean’ which is a look that I think most of us would be happy with.
These postures are all strength building and range from novice to intermediate to expert and demonstrate what is possible with regular practice:
Yoga is for everybody and wearing lycra is not obligatory so why not give it a try? Even if you regularly play other sports and don’t feel the need to add in something that may seem so ‘low impact’, give it a go for a month and just see how it improves your performance. If you have any existing sports injuries, tell yoga teacher and she or he will work out a programme for you which will be designed to strenthen the muscles needed to support you in your recovery. Have a look here to find a yoga class near you