Yoga, Is It The Best Choice Weight Loss And Fitness?

There are many trends that come and go in the fitness industry, but yoga has stood the test of time going back thousands of years. Yoga is a great form of exercise, but is it enough?

Yoga is an incredibly beneficial form of exercise, both for the mind and body.  It promotes strength, flexibility, balance, and an overall mental well-being.  Who can argue with that?  Yoga places great demands on your core musculature, using a lot of static contractions, where you are “holding” poses.  This type of contraction is used by the body a great deal, especially with the core muscles, in everyday life and is very beneficial.  I think yoga is fantastic and can encourages a healthy lifestyle, but let’s also look at the other side of the coin.

Yoga does have some drawbacks as a sole form of exercise. The primary force, or resistance that you are battling, is gravity and your body weight.  Without using an additional external force such as a dumbbell for instance, there will be many muscles that will not be trained in a functional range of motion, with a functional type of muscle contraction, or both.  This is especially true when we are talking about your arms and legs, where some muscles can be missed entirely with yoga.  Let me give you just one example.

Much of human movement, and where many back injuries occur, revolve around lifting and/or pulling.  When you are pulling in your garden hose, or lifting a case of water (both external forces) you are using a number of upper and lower extremity muscles, along with many trunk (mostly back) muscles.  Without an external force in your yoga routine, you will be missing these muscles and the benefit of training them functionally.  You cannot easily reproduce these movements, muscle contractions, or range of motions with your body weight and gravity alone.

Now lets also visit about the calorie burning and cardiovascular benefits of yoga.  There are forms of “power yoga” that claim to burn considerable calories, and you will walk away from these classes exhausted, but they certainly are not a form of exercise that burns hundreds of calories, as they are anaerobic.  They would not be the best choice for weight loss.  I want everyone to pay attention to the next few sentences!  The body requires oxygen to burn fat.  If you want to burn a lot of fat and optimize your weight loss, you must be breathing hard.  I don’t care if you are sweating a lot, I don’t care if your muscles are burning, I don’t care if you are tired.  You must be breathing hard!  Lots of air must be going in on out of your lungs. Period.

Yoga is an incredible part of a healthy active lifestyle, but again, whether it is all you need depends on what level of health and fitness that you desire.  If your goals include sculpted muscles throughout your body, functional strength, increased bone density, or cardiovascular health, you may want to supplement your yoga program with other forms of exercise.


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