Written by Nat Young – Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist, Fitness Instructor and Yoga Teacher
This is a question I’m often asked and the short answer is “of course you can!” but whether you’ll reach your fitness goals with ‘just yoga’ is another question. Let me explain…
A well-rounded fitness programme will consist of exercises for strength, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility. The NHS regards yoga as a strength building exercise (as well as the obvious benefits to flexibility), however, not all yoga is equal. If you’re doing Yin-style yoga, that’s not strength-based at all as it’s focused on flexibility of the joints and connective tissues. However, a strong Hatha, Vinyasa or Power inspired yoga practice such as our fitness-focused yoga classes is a different story! You’ll get strength benefits from these faster, stronger styles.
An important distinction to make is that all yoga is bodyweight-based so you won’t get the same ‘tone’ that you get from lifting weights (think ‘long and lean’ muscles!) In terms of lifting weights, how you lift them is important. Lighter weights and high repetitions such as those you might find in a studio weights class such as Body Pump will help with muscular endurance (so you train your body to be able to continue when it gets tired) but heavier weights and low repetitions such as those in a gym-based environment are better for building size and ultimate strength. Building muscle is also great if your goal is weight loss as a higher muscle mass will boost metabolism.
Lots of ladies worry about lifting heavier weights in case they bulk up too much but rest assured, it’s much harder for women to bulk up as we don’t have the high levels of testosterone that our male counterparts have. Yoga also doesn’t have a lot of pulling movements (it’s mainly pushing movements) so supplementing your yoga practice with exercises like lat pulldowns or rows can really help to keep the balance.
From a cardio fitness perspective, you’ll get some benefit from a faster paced yoga class but really it’s best to supplement your yoga practice with some dedicated heart-rate raising activities as well. Cycling, swimming, running or simply walking briskly are all fantastic for this. As long as you feel yourself getting breathless with the effort, it’ll be increasing your cardio fitness.
While balance is important to make your fitness goals a reality, it’s also important to choose forms of exercise that you enjoy. You’re more likely to stick with your exercise regime if you look forward to doing it! Consistency is key.
At Aurora we know all-round fitness is important, whether it’s physical fitness or mind fitness. That’s why we offer personal training and hypnotherapy as well as yoga. Why not get in touch to see how we could help with your mind and body fitness goals?