Yoga and strength training offers many benefits to those who decide to add it to their exercise routine. Combining the benefits of flexibility and the stress-relieving elements of yoga yields a total-body workout that impacts your mind, spirit, and body. The practice of yoga has been around for centuries and is especially beneficial to older adults. Not only does it strengthen muscles and improve posture, it also helps to reduce chronic pain, reduce high blood pressure, manage stress, and improve overall health.
Increases Muscle Strength
Yoga increases muscle strength and tone. It tones muscles, improves bone density, decreases body fat, improves lymphatic circulation, enhances circulation, calms anxiety, enhances flexibility, and improves range-of-motion and balance. It is a powerful tool for stress management. One study found that yoga is as effective as antidepressant medication in controlling depression. Because yoga increases your flexibility, it can help increase your range of motion.
You can do yoga and body weight training at home or at a local gym. You can do them on their own or you can hire a professional trainer or gym to perform them for you. If you’re just beginning, it’s best to start out with simple poses such as the Sukhasana, or the Half Spinal Twist. The Half Spinal Twist is a slow stretch that uses five major muscles (the quads, hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and spinal erectors) at one stretch. Begin with ten repetitions, then increase the number to twenty repetitions, and finally twenty-five repetitions.
Build Lean Muscle Mass
The benefits of strength training are well known. You build lean muscle mass and lose fat. Lean muscle mass requires more energy to move, so working muscles require more energy. Plus, lean muscles take up less space in the body so you usually feel more energetic. And, of course, you lose fat when you do yoga because you burn calories that way instead of putting them into your body.
Many athletes and bodybuilders use functional strength instead of trying to increase muscle mass. Functional strength encompasses many aspects of exercise beyond just strength training. For example, power lifting allows you to use more muscles during the lift. You can add more weight, but if you don’t have a stable base, the movement is less efficient. It also forces you to use your stabilizer muscles.
Improving Your Flexibility
In addition, functional strength exercises don’t necessarily focus on strength, although they do need strength to be effective. By improving your flexibility, you improve your range of motion and your ability to maintain proper form. Power lifters add their flexibility to their lifting regimen and bodybuilders achieve maximum gains in functional strength through hypertrophy (growth) of muscle fibers.
When you incorporate yoga into your regular routine, it helps to keep your joints and muscles supple. This will greatly reduce the risk of sustaining an injury to one or more of your joints, especially your back. Yoga is also a great way to improve your posture. Strengthening your core muscles helps you stay balanced and maintain your upright posture, which is critical to reducing back pain and improving your quality of life. If you suffer from back pain, including lower back pain, yoga may be just what you need to safely and effectively manage your pain.