April 16 | The Practice |
In addition to flexibility and relaxation, a regular yoga practice produces strength in your body and your mind. The strength you build from your vinyasa and power yoga practice is a different type of strength than the kind that you build from strength training with weights. And, that is why Yoga Six is introducing Y6 Sculpt. Our team wanted to ensure you have access to the many benefits that come along with adding strength training to your yoga practice!
Yoga typically builds strength isometrically by holding a pose steady for a period of time (depending on the class, some are held longer than others), and using your own body weight as resistance, thus working different types of muscle fibers.
You’ve probably heard instructors say, “use strength over momentum,” in class once or twice. This means using control in your movements to create that resistance and thus, build strength with longer and leaner muscles. While the strength you build by using your own weight is great, in the grand scheme of things, it has its limitations. You can only get as strong as your weight allows, and therefore, adding that extra weight through strength training with free weights gives you a boost to become even stronger.
Many yogis are often hesitant to incorporate strength training with weights (whether through machines or free weights) because they don’t want to develop that overly bulky physique that many believe comes with regular weightlifting. Extreme muscle bulk comes from lifting super heavy weights, typically with fewer repetitions. Using low to moderate weights with increased repetition leads to stronger, longer and more toned muscles.
Aside from the general strength and added tone you build with the incorporation of weights just a few times a week, there are more benefits to your individual yoga practice that come through strength training. For one, it helps improve balance and bone density, thus helping you achieve—and hold—challenging poses and inversions such as a handstand or crow. Those who have incorporated strength training with weights can see a definite progression in their balance poses especially with significantly less trembling.
Combining yoga with strength training also helps prevent muscle mass loss that begins in your thirties and continues to decline at an average of three percent every ten years, according to Dr. Melina Jampolis, who writes for CNN Health.
Another added benefit to strength training with weights is—and we’ve all been here at least once, if not more—preventing stagnation in your workout routine. While yoga is great for your body, mind, and spirit, it’s easy to fall into a rut of what feels comfortable for you and your body. However, the best results come when you push yourself gradually, and weight training is the perfect way to do that without overdoing it. There is always room to increase the weight you lift—even if you do start with those three or five pound weights.
Our culture tends to create bodies that are tight in the anterior plane (think your chest/pecs and hip flexors) while overstretched and weak in the posterior plane (think your back and lats). Repetitive motion like sitting, typing, driving, and texting all contribute to a kyphotic or hunchbacked posture. Strength training gives you the opportunity to strengthen your back body, while opening your front body. This leads to better posture and less pain.
In total, strength training with free-weights can help increase your overall strength, more than using your own body weight. It can tone your muscles, even with the use of lower-pound weights; it can improve balance and bone density, helping you to better achieve difficult poses; prevent or even reverse muscle mass loss; and it can help you from hitting a plateau in your practice, as well as in your regular workout routine.
Check your local studio’s schedule to try Y6 Sculpt. Y6 Sculpt is designed to get your heart rate up through a dynamic yoga-infused warm up, followed by a high energy but low-impact weight training circuit. At the end of class, you’ll cool down with some of yoga’s greatest stretches to leave you relaxed, focused, and ready for the day. It’s the perfect class to add strength, stability, and cardiovascular health.
We’ll see you on the mat—with your weights—soon!