When we're looking for a good workout, we often think of running, biking, swimming and other sweat-inducing aerobic activity. But regular strength training is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It builds muscle that enables our daily movements and protects us from injury. It supports weight loss and increases our metabolism. And strength training doesn't have to mean heavy weights, barbells, and loud music. Yoga builds strength too!
Yoga builds functional strength, meaning the strength we use to live with ease in our daily environments. For instance, the squat is one of the most functionally important exercises we can practice because the strength it helps to build is expressed in routine activities such as getting out of a chair or picking up an object on the floor. By engaging multiple muscles groups throughout the body, rather than isolating specific muscles as is the case with fixed gym equipment, yoga helps ingrain functional movement patterns and strength more quickly than isolation exercises. Take chaturanga for example, where we work the arms, the abs, the back, and the thighs at once. Talk about multiple muscle groups!
The reality is your body is a weight, and in yoga we use it creatively to create resistance and engage and strengthen our muscles. Repeated movements, like vinyasas, also build up strength in the body by putting a slight stress on the muscle groups involved so they'll be ready to handle a few more repetitions during your next class.
So if you're looking to get toned, stronger, or simply want to feel better throughout the day, think of yoga for your next strength workout!