I don’t know about you but I definitely don’t like to exercise in a gym – mirrors, sweat smell, men pumping weights, loud doof doof music. I prefer the peace of yoga.
You might think of yoga as a practice for relaxation. But yoga can equally be a practice for fitness. Fitness is measured on a number of factors – the effect on the cardiovascular system; strength; flexibility and our body’s composition of muscle to fat. Fitness regimes often include high intensity as well as resistance training (weights). Some yoga practices can include both of these. High intensity comes from dynamic practices such as sun salutations, and strong standing postures where our heart rate is increased and we are building heat in the body. In yoga we use our own body weight for resistance training – this means you no longer need to pay to go to a gym and use all that equipment as you can practice anywhere at anytime using your own weight!
At a university study in the United states, college students were signed up to an 8 week course where they focussed on 10 minutes of pranayama (breathwork); 15 minutes warm up; 50 minutes asana (physical postures) and 10 minutes of meditation.
‘After eight weeks, the students' muscular strength had increased by as much as 31 percent, muscular endurance by 57 percent, flexibility by as much as 188 percent, and VO2max (volume of oxygen uptake) by 7 percent’ (Alisa Bouman, Yoga Journal). The VO2max result surprised researchers who did not expect to see an increase within such a short space of time. The pranayama practices and the deep stretching into the sides of the torso, the back and chest help free up the ribs which enhances our ability to increase uptake of oxygen and remove stale air from the lungs.
Yoga also develops a strong core that is more beneficial than a six pack – the core in yoga is a much deeper layer that strengthens postural muscles which support our whole skeletal alignment. Focussing on a six pack or flat belly tightens the surface layer muscles which can hinder breathing and does not develop the inner layer of support for the spine.
But the best offering yoga brings is way beyond the physical. It provides us with an opportunity to turn inward, tune into our body’s internal wisdom and that is what brings us into maximum fitness - a true holistic sense of health and wellbeing.
"Yoga class is merely a laboratory for how to be in harmony with the body in every activity outside of yoga. This improved physical wellness and fluidity enhance not just the physical well-being but also permeate all levels of our being." (Dina Amsterdam, Is Yoga Enough to Keep you fit, Yoga Journal)
Still not convinced? Come and try this for yourself. Living Harmony Yoga is commencing an 8 week Yoga for Fitness course on Mondays nights. The class structure will follow that of the study - pranayama, warm up, asana and meditation with a focus on core work, strengthening all over body plus targeting specific muscles (such as glutes, upper arms, lower back) and building the heart rate. There will be time to stretch out, rest and rebalance.
Get ready for summer! This 8 week course starts after the school holidays, Mondays, 15th October to 3rd December, 6:15pm – 7.30pm. COST: $120
Further reading: https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/is-yoga-enough-to-keep-you-fit