Yoga or Strength Training

Practicing strength training is a well-known method to increase muscle mass in your body and gain shape. However, there are alternatives to this method such as yoga. Yoga is not only an alternative to the strength training it can be a better choice then strength training.

Yoga is a form of physical and psychological practice that helps us maintain a better self. It has not only positive psychological effects, but it is also beneficial to our body in terms of health and shape. As a highly practiced physical exercise, strength training is helpful to gain muscle mass but it is not the only option. Even though yoga seems like a soft form of training, it might be even better than strength training.

What is strength training?

Strength training is a form of physical exercise which uses the resistance to build strength, aerobic endurance, and skeletal muscles by inducing the muscular contraction. Regular and properly performed strength training is highly beneficial for overall health and well-being.

Increased muscle mass gives you strength and it helps you to prevent injuries. Strength training will increase the mass of muscles in your body. It includes a wide range of exercises such as weight machines, resistance bands, and exercise by using your body weight.

With strength training, you will develop stronger bones because in this type of exercise your bone density will be increased as a result of stressing your bones. Moreover, strength training decreases the risk of osteoporosis. Thus, strength training provides support to your bones.

To manage your weight, strength training is a good choice to lose weight. It will help to increase your metabolism and help burn calories which will lead to losing weight. Therefore, strength training is a good choice to get in shape.

You can benefit from strength training to enhance the quality of your life and your ability to do everyday activities. Muscles can help you gain balance and this can help you gain independence as you age.

Moreover, strength training can help you manage chronic conditions such as arthritis, back pain, and depression by reducing their signs and symptoms. In other words, it has positive effects on your health.

Downsides of strength training

As strength training has many advantages, there are also some disadvantages such as weight gain, muscle pain, and stress fractures. It is always better to get your doctor’s permission first.

If you are trying to lose weight and gain muscles at the same time, strength training is a great choice however, you may gain weight initially. When you start your strength training program and diet, the initial gain of muscle mass will be more than your loss of fat. Therefore, temporarily you will gain weight.

Exercising with a workout program that is too densely and too quickly with trying to lift more than you can handle, may cause stress fractures in women which are tiny cracks in your bone. Increasing intensity of the workout incrementally is important to avoid this skeletal injury.

Reverse anorexia can be another downside of the bodybuilding. Reverse anorexia occurs with the obsession to increase the size of your muscles constantly. Even though this gives motivation at the beginning, later it will have harmful consequences such as unusual diets and shirking responsibilities.

Lifting weights more than you can handle or working improperly to gain muscles can result in muscle tear and damage to ligaments, tendons, and surrounding soft tissue. Thus, it can lead to muscle aches in varying degrees and injuries.

Does yoga count as strength training?

Depending on the type of yoga you will be practicing, yoga can be counted as strength training. Some yoga postures will help you gain muscles by the use of your own body weight so they can be counted as a kind of strength training.

To build muscles, strength training is a highly popular exercise. However, yoga can be a great alternative and maybe a better one to increase the muscle mass in your body. It synchronously works on your muscle and makes them improve in balance.

A rigorous version of yoga with multiple Chaturangas which are push-ups in a yoga perspective, will heavily work on your muscles and increase your muscle mass. However, yoga wouldn’t provide you the bodybuilder shape but it improves them in the healthiest way.

Yoga is a great choice to gain muscles while gaining the perfect balance for your body. You will gain flexibility and strength at the same time by practicing yoga. Thus, it is beneficial to decrease the risk of injuries and increase your muscle endurance.

Why yoga?

Yoga is a mental, spiritual and physical practice that aims to join the mind, spirit and the body. Apart from all benefits of yoga to psychological health of us, yoga also amazes with its physiological benefits.

Yoga improves your body in the way that it was formed to be, it contracts and relaxes your muscles in the balance as they are supposed to be. While strength training works on your muscles separately, yoga works on them synchronously. Thus, yoga is a more balanced approached then strength training.

Yoga lengthens and builds functional strength in your muscles and it helps you learn to use this strength efficiently so that your muscles will not only look good but also effective.  As it is the main principle of yoga, it restores body balance and symmetry. It helps your body muscles to work in synchrony.  Not only it helps you to decrease the risk of injuries, but you will also obtain increased muscle endurance and pain threshold.

Moreover, yoga will help you enhance your focus, improve your mental clarity and your self well-being. You will have a positive attitude towards life itself with a clear mind and healthy body. In other words, yoga will help you achieve your self well being in terms of both mind and health.

Does not all yoga count?

Being practiced for many years, yoga has been developed into various forms. Each of them helps us gain our highest potential in different manners. Even though all forms of yoga is beneficial to both physical and psychological state, some of them work heavily on our physiological state and some of them emphasize our psychological state.

Before starting yoga, it is important to choose one of those styles accordingly with your aim. Each type of yoga has different strength and flow. Depending on your goal you can choose the type that suits you best. Here are 5 forms of yoga,

1.    Ashtanga Yoga:

It is considered to be a modern form of classical Indian yoga. It is also known as “Power” yoga. Movement and breathing are linked in this type of yoga. In Ashtanga, there is a progression, in other words, if you are a beginner you will start from primary series then move forward with practice to more advanced sets.

2.    Vinyasa Yoga:

Vinyasa works in connecting breath with movement. The postures of Vinyasa is practiced in a sequence inflow. As the sequence is memorized, it becomes more like a moving meditation.

3.    Yin Yoga:

Yin yoga focuses on lengthening the connective tissues in your body. It is designed to complement Yang yoga. If Yang yoga is active then Yin yoga is passive.

4.    Kundalini Yoga:

Kundalini works on the mind and awareness. Each poses in Kundalini Yoga is associated with another breathing technique which intensifies the posture. It is a more spiritual and meditative style than others. This style of yoga provides spiritual and physical challenges at the same time.

5.    Iyengar Yoga:

This type of yoga works on balancing flexibility and strength with proper body alignment. It is helpful to people of all ages to find proper alignment and flexibilities that are perfect for their bodies. The poses are maintained longer than the other types with the aid of props.

Combining yoga and strength training

If you want to increase the efficiency of your training, using both of these approaches in a mixed manner can be highly effective. It can be seen as a hybrid practice of yoga with weights. In this way, you will gain flexibility and improve your muscles more effectively.

As yoga helps you improve your muscles in a more balanced manner, you will gain muscles in a short time in a healthier way by combining these two approaches. You will develop your strength more intensely and carefully. Thus, you will develop more functional strength.

It is important to set your program in a specific understanding of both practices and which muscle group you want to work on. Your program must be designed in a way that the type of yoga fits in your strength training in the most efficient way.

4 yoga poses to gain strength

1.    Chair Pose (Utkatasana):

Chair pose contracts the hip flexors, glutes, adductors, and quadriceps thus, it provides intense strength in your legs. Moreover, it builds strength in the trunk.

To begin this pose, you will stand your feet together and with an inhalation, you will sit deeply back as if there is a chair. Reach your arms towards the sky. Then, feel your shins moving back as if your weight shifts away from your toes, this will protect your knees from unwanted stress. Maintain this position for 5 breaths then come back to standing position.

2.    Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana):

This pose strengthens your lower limps and it helps to stretch out the hip flexors of the back leg while your front leg contracts.

To begin this pose, stand on your feet together then take a big step back. Your front foot must be straight ahead while your knee aligns over your ankle. Maintain your hips squarely and raise your arms overhead. Maintain this pose for 5 breaths.

3.    Forearm Plank (Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana):

Forearm Plank is an exercise which is effective on the whole of your body. It works on the entire core group including the erector spinae muscles, rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus. Moreover, forearm plank works on shoulders and engages chest, glutes, thighs, and calves.

To get into this pose, start from the tabletop position and come onto your forearms. Then, place your hands with shoulder-width apart while maintaining your elbows in line with the wrists. Step one foot back at a time. During this pose, push actively down through your forearms as you draw your front ribs. Try to keep your hips but do not collapse your lower back. Lenhgten your tailbone toward heels. Start this pose with 5-8 breaths until you can maintain the pose for 1 min.

4.    Headstand (Sirsana):

This pose develops your core strength and challenges your whole body. It needs to be done with focus, strength, and care.

To get into this pose, start with your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Then bring your forearms onto the floor while maintaining your elbows directly under your shoulders. Then, each hand will close around the opposite elbow. Make sure that your elbows are at the right distance apart. Then release your hands from your elbows. Later, place the crown of your head onto the floor. Make sure your head is in the correct position. Back of your head will rest at the bases of your thumbs. Then, lift your hips and straighten your legs as if you are doing ‘Downward Facing Dog’. Walk on your feet in toward your head carefully until your hips are close to over your shoulders. Later, lift your right foot to bring your right knee to your chest. In this pose, take a few deep breaths. As you feel steady, inhale and engage your core muscles. Then lift your left foot and bring it to your chest alongside your right carefully. Maintain this pose and breathe deeply while keeping your core engaged as long as you remain in this pose. At first, try to stand in this pose for 10 seconds. Then come down with doing the reverse of the steps you did to get in the pose. It is important to be slow and careful in this pose. You can rest in ‘Child’s Pose’ after this pose.

Savaş Ateş

I like meditation and yoga. I read a lot of books about them. I applied them in my daily life. I want to write about my experiences.

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