Yoga is the most popular recreational activity in Australia and recently it has been suggested that yoga is the reason we are all in such great shape…
However is yoga really as amazing as the yoga fanatics say it is?
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Can yoga ever replace a traditional gym work out?
And would you be better off switching your work out for a lay down on a yoga mat?
Scientists have recently started testing the effects of regular yoga practice and they have found really positive results:
‘In one of the first studies done in the United States that examines the relationship between yoga and fitness, researchers at the University of California at Davis recently tested the muscular strength and
endurance, flexibility, cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition, and lung function of 10 college students before and after eight weeks of yoga training. Each week, the students attended four sessions that included 10 minutes of pranayama, 15 minutes of warm-up exercises, 50 minutes of asanas, and 10 minutes of meditation.
After eight weeks, the students’ muscular strength had increased by as much as 31 percent, muscular endurance by 57 percent, flexibility by as much as 188 percent, and VO2max by 7 percent—a very respectable increase, given the brevity of the experiment.’
This study does show that yoga has some great health benefits and it’s a good idea to take up yoga if you are looking for a way to keep your fitness levels up.
However this study did not compare yoga to a traditional resistance and cardio based gym work out where the participants would have increased their stamina and strength by much, much more.
Although yoga does help to strengthen existing muscles through stretching with your own resistance, it will never have an effect as good as weight training,
As explained in this extract from a healthy living advice website:
‘If you’re looking to gain muscle mass, focus on weight training. Yoga does not provide enough of a challenge to help increase muscle mass significantly. However, yoga could help you gain muscle tone and definition. How much depends on what type of yoga you’re practising and how advanced the poses are. As a general rule, you will gain the most muscle in the first few months of training — the rate of muscle
building slows down as time passes. You can expect to gain anywhere from 2 to 5 pounds of muscle a month along with heavy and regular weight training, so don’t expect a lot of muscle definition if you’re only doing yoga.’
And yoga will also never beat cardio work outs as you simply do not move enough in the average yoga class to really build up a sweat like you would in the average exercise class.
Imagine how you feel after a full on spin session?
Could yoga work your body that hard?
However that does not mean that yoga is not as good as a gym work out because yoga has many, many more benefits.
Practising yoga not only takes care of your body it also takes care of your mind.
It has been proven that yoga, meditation and mindfulness are the easiest ways to combat depression, stress and anxiety.
And there are very few work outs that can leave your muscles as supple and flexible as a yoga class can. Your muscles perform at their best when warmed up so yoga sessions are probably the most nurturing and caring exercises you can put your body through.
We’ve been told for years that the only way to lose weight or build muscles is to train hard, eat well and take care of your body.
So maybe instead of arguing over whether yoga or the gym is better, it’s best to include them both in your routine?
Using your gym work out to gain and build muscle strength, your yoga class to nourish and condition your body and keeping a clean and healthy diet is easily the best way to see the best results.
What do you think? Let us know your opinions in the comments below…