It is time to break any misconceptions you might have had about yoga. It is not a lot of mediation. No chanting is involved (unless you really want to). Regardless of how calm and relaxing yoga may look when you see it being done by professionals in pictures, it isn’t. Yoga is hard work and a darn good workout.
There are combinations of things that make yoga very appealing to women. To start with, most yoga classes are filled with women and very few men. This makes it easier to relax and work hard because there is less concern with looking bad in front of the opposite sex. From a physical standpoint it helps with muscle strength, tone, endurance, flexibility, and balance. A lot of women don’t want to bulk up but they want to tone up. The more ideal body type is one of a dancer than a bodybuilder. Think lithe and graceful.
Also there is the aspect of yoga being gentler and less impactful compared to other types of exercise. With the stretching of the muscles and connective tissue you gain flexibility that actually helps prevent injuries as well. Because of these reasons yoga is ideal for mothers after birth as a way to ease their bodies back into shape.
Differences in Yoga vs. Other Exercises
Most cardiovascular exercises tighten and contract muscles as they flex. This causes the muscles to keep a shorter shape that can be uncomfortable. While most people perform static stretches before and after things like running, it does not have the same effect as yoga. Yoga, on the other hand, involves stretching multiple muscle groups at once to loosen sections of the body up. In conjunction with that, there are not the same type of tight, contraction movements in yoga to tense the muscles back up.
While you build muscle strength and tone from weight workouts, again it is through muscular contractions. Yoga uses a different method by having muscles support body weight in various poses without being in a full contraction.
Benefits of Yoga with Other Workouts
Really yoga will make your body feel better by itself or in conjunction with other fitness programs. As the goal of yoga is to stretch and strengthen, there is not a single type of exercise that it doesn’t compliment. Many women (and men) enjoy just doing yoga as their sole fitness option because of the health and mental (calming) benefits. But others use it as a form of recovery from more strenuous activities such as running, climbing, or biking.
No matter how you want to use it, the bottom line is that you should use it. Overall there are some growing pains when learning the poses, but then it can easily be done any time or any place with only a limited amount of space and a yoga mat. What isn’t there to love about that?