Maybe we’re biased, but we believe that there are hundreds of reasons to try a yoga class, and then make it a very regular part of your fitness regime. Improved flexibility, better mental health, enhanced respiration, energy and vitality, a well-balanced metabolism, protection from injury, improved posture, better athletic performance … shall we go on? How about strength? While it may not be as rigorous as serious weight lifting, yoga can deeply improve muscle strength and help deepen your strength training practice.
The poses we do during yoga class uses resistance to induce muscular contraction, which builds strength and anaerobic endurance. By connecting each pose with our breath, blood flow increases to the muscles bringing oxygen and essential nutrients to the active tissue. This not only allows the muscles to function at their optimal level but also helps to build muscle strength and allows damaged muscles to repair more quickly.
Yoga is what we refer to as bodyweight exercise. This means you are using the weight of your body to help build strength. Think of being in a plank position, for instance. Your arms and your core hold up the weight of your body, and over time this improves strength. If you’ve ever tried to stay in Plank or Warrior II for a minute or more, you know how much muscle it requires to not break form. It’s a proven strength-builder, much like using weights and resistance bands.
Practically everything we do in class at our yoga studio in Prahran involves engaging your core. Not to mention the fact that balancing, in general, requires control of all of your muscles. When you simply hold downward dog, you use every muscle in your body, especially your core.
Whether we are holding core-centric poses for an extended period of time, or continuously flowing from pose to pose, each movement raises the heartbeat, lengthening your muscles and building overall strength, which you can then carry on into your strength training.
The first reason regular Pilates classes can be effective for staying fit is simple math. If you are a mostly deskbound person or even a very busy person but not particularly active, a yoga class will increase your total caloric expenditure from whatever your baseline is, to a few hundred calories above that.
A yoga class can burn between 180 and 460 calories depending on several factors, including the type of yoga you’re doing, the length and intensity of the class, and whether you’re male or female. Like most workouts, the amount of calories you burn depends on your intensity, however, there are many postures and flows we do that certainly increase your heart rate and boost cardiovascular fitness.
It’s important to know that despite being a low impact form of exercise, yoga is a complete work out for the entire body and mind, and if practiced often enough and coupled with a nutritious diet, can aid with weight loss. This is not only because of the physical practice within itself, but also because of how yoga supports your mental and spiritual development, which in turn allows you to create the best version of yourself, and helps you love and support your body in the ways that it needs.
Most yoga poses focus on building up the deepest layer of muscle, which can develop and hone long, lean muscles that will help create a stronger inner and outer frame. This has a dramatic impact on your overall body composition, and will help tone you up and stay in shape.
Although yoga class alone is enough to dramatically improve your health and keep you fit, supplementing yoga classes with other workouts—even simple ones like walking—is your best bet for lasting health and fitness. Studies show that regularly varying your exercise routine can help keep your brain and body challenged and engaged – so at Kaya we recommend mixing up yoga with other classes, such as Pilates or HIIT.