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Why You Should Add Yoga To Your Strength Training Routine

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: June 1, 2022

If you’re seriously in love with lifting iron, convincing you to take up a yoga class could fall into the category of the hard sell. The thing about yoga is that it looks deceptively easy, nothing that any serious weight lifter needs to concern him--or herself with.

I can tell you from experience that it isn’t easy. It only looks like it. My first yoga class kicked my behind. That’s when I learned the true power of yoga as a strength-training activity.

If you’re on the fence about why you should add yoga to your strength training routine, this post we explain how yoga complements a strength routine. We also cover some important topics, like the emotional benefits of yoga, yoga for plus-size beginners, and ashtanga vs vinyasa yoga.

Is Yoga a Strength Training Activity?

An article on Healthline points out that yoga meets the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) guidelines for strength-building exercises. That said, even many yoga practitioners suggest that yoga is made even better when you pair it with other exercises, like weight training.

An article on Healthline points out that yoga meets the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) guidelines for strength-building exercises. That said, even many yoga practitioners suggest that yoga is made even better when you pair it with other exercises, like weight training.

Weight training and yoga work with different patterns of movement. As such, each stresses your body in a slightly different way. When you lift iron, your muscle mass and your body’s overall strength get a boost.

On the other hand, yoga is awesome for helping you build that strong core. Your abs, hips, and back get stronger.

Your hips, spine, and shoulders also gain increased flexibility, which decreases your risk of injury. This is particularly true if you incorporate aerial yoga poses with silk bands into your yoga routine.

A decreased risk of injury means that you spend more time training and less time recovering. That alone may be one of the best reasons to add yoga to your strength training routine.

Ashtanga Vs Vinyasa Yoga and Strength Training

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois developed Ashtanga yoga in the early 1930s. He looked for inspiration in an ancient text, called Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, according to the Alpha Yoga School.

For the uninitiated, Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga seem the same. Both use some of the same fundamental principles. However, from a philosophical standpoint, they are different.

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois developed Ashtanga yoga in the early 1930s. He looked for inspiration in an ancient text, called Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, according to the Alpha Yoga School.

Ashtanga is both physically and mentally challenging. Practitioners also perform it in a specific sequence each time. The progression of the sequence gets more difficult as well. Every Ashtanga class is sequentially the same.

Because the sequence is the same each time, practitioners don’t have to think about it. This opens up the space for them to see how they’re improving in their practice.

On the other hand, Vinyasa practitioners bring creativity to their yoga practice. While Vinyasa uses many of the same poses as Ashtanga, no two yoga classes are alike. It’s possible to have a new yoga routine every time you go to a Vinyasa class, even if the same instructor teaches the class.

Strength Training Meets Ashtanga and Vinyasa

Here’s where the practice of these two yoga styles and strength training meet. Serious weight lifters typically work in sets with the same sequences on specific days of the week. This allows them to build muscle and work their muscles to exhaustion.

In this respect, it’s a bit like the Ashtanga sequence. Because the routine remains the same, both the yoga practitioner and the weight lifter have the freedom to concentrate on improving their form and practice. Ashtanga also has a reputation for building strength, so it complements a strength training routine.

That said, there is room for Vinyasa in the strength trainer’s routine also. Boredom can kill any workout routine. Doing the same routine over and over without any kind of break sends even the most dedicated fitness enthusiast packing.

Vinyasa works with the same poses as Ashtanga, but does so in a creative, free-flowing manner. Attending a Vinyasa class from time to time allows you to get all the benefits of yoga, but to add a bit of fun, jazzy music, and creativity to your workout.

Brain Yoga Exercises: Finding Your Zen on and off the Mat

According to an article on the Harvard University website, your brain gets a big boost on yoga. It helps your brain positively change its structure and to increase the connections in the brain. The areas of your brain that deal with language, memory, and thought become more developed, giving you greater cognitive resources as a result.

Aside from this, study after study shows that those with anxiety disorders and depression may get as much relief from doing yoga as they would from getting other mental health treatments.

Given that yoga happens in a group setting, it comes with a social component. Having a sense of community lessens the chance that you’ll experience depression or relieves the strongest symptoms of it.

Most people now recognize the toll that depression and anxiety have on personal motivation. All exercise, including strength training, can help you with symptoms of depression.

However, if you feel like you’re lacking in the social connections necessary to really get motivated, attending a yoga class just might get you back on track with your training routine.

Yoga For Plus Size Beginners

Anyone who has ever struggled with their weight can tell you how difficult it is to go to the gym. It’s a place filled with mirrors, sometimes judgmental looks, and equipment that looks like it came from an alien spaceship.

Forget about using such equipment even if the desire is there. It feels intimidating and embarrassing to be huffing and puffing on this alien equipment when everyone else seemingly uses it so easily.

Whether this perception is true or not doesn’t matter if it’s you that’s struggling with being overweight in the gym. That’s where yoga for plus size beginners really has an advantage. It can bridge the gap between being a beginner and being an advanced practitioner of physical fitness, including a weight lifter.

There is a reason that you don’t see mirrors in a yoga class. Yoga classes emphasize the development of inner awareness, as well as the development of inner strength.

For the plus size beginner who wants to eventually lift iron in the gym, yoga’s a less intimidating first step. It helps to build the strength and confidence required to eventually go to the gym.

FAQs

Do I have to give up lifting weights if I take up yoga?

No. As we’ve pointed out, yoga works very well with most exercise routines, including strength training.

How often should I attend a yoga class as a beginner?

Beginning yoga students can start with two or three classes a week. As they grow in strength and confidence, they can add more classes.

How does yoga decrease my chances of injury?

Many exercise-related injuries occur because people aren’t flexible enough, and the muscles around the bones and joints aren’t strong enough. Doing yoga increases your flexibility and strengthens your muscles, cutting down your risk of injury.

 


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