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Yoga as strength training?

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Old 02-03-2009, 09:43 AM   #1
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Default Yoga as strength training?

Apologies if this has been asked before!

My workouts currently consist of cardio plus a regular (4-6 days/week) yoga practice. I do Bikram yoga, so it is a very intense 90-minute class, with a lot of holding poses, etc.

My question is, do I need to add additional strength/weight training on top of this, or does an intense form of yoga like Bikram, Ashtanga or Vinyasa provide many of the same benefits? I am interested in muscle tone, the extra caloric burn that muscle provides, that type of thing.

Thanks in advance for any input!
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Old 02-03-2009, 10:06 AM   #2
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Yoga does provide some strength training benefits, especially power style yoga, especially to core and stability. It builds strength and muscle endurance, but not in the same way as lifting does.

I do know I have gained strength through yoga, I did yoga a mere 1/wk when I was pg but did a lot of elbow stand and other inverted poses and when I returned to weights I started 4-8 lbs heavier on military press than I had ever done in my life even when I was lifting regularly.

I would say you could still see some benefits to traditonal lifting especially if you focus on the heavy weight/low rep side of things...which will be the opposite of what yoga gives you.
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:28 PM   #3
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It definitely builds strength. It's enough for health. Whether it's enough for what you want is as personal as whether walking every day is enough vs running a marathon is enough.
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Old 02-03-2009, 01:37 PM   #4
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It definitely builds strength. It's enough for health. Whether it's enough for what you want is as personal as whether walking every day is enough vs running a marathon is enough.
Very well said!

At the moment, yoga is my only strength-building exercise. I've lifted weights in the past and plan to return to it in the future, but for now I'm perfectly fine with the strength yoga gives me. Starting from last week I'm back to regular sessions after a seven week hiatus, and I'm seeing differences in muscle tone and core strength already, so there are definitely tangible results to be had. What I particularly like is that my flexibility and balance are built right along with my muscles.

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Old 02-03-2009, 06:50 PM   #5
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Agreements from me too! Yoga has absolutely increased my strength in some areas but, for me, I like to see it as just a piece of my fitness puzzle.

That's probably why I don't excel in any one area...not enough days in the week to seriously excel at yoga, running and strength training.

But I do find that it's a nice fit for me as one part of my fitness.

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Old 02-03-2009, 09:00 PM   #6
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I am in agreement with everyone else. It does provide strengthening. Not in the same way as lifting free weights but in other ways.

After taking my first yoga sessions this summer I found that the yoga poses augmented my lifting sessions beautifully. It kind of allowed the muscles to "talk to each other more" in movement if that make sense. It further increased coordination and flexibility. I also found that I was sore in areas that I wasn't from lifting. Like Elisa, I just consider it another piece of the puzzle for me.
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:39 PM   #7
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For those of you who have done both, do you have any tips on how to combine them (i.e., did the yoga work best the day before your lifting, or better during recovery phase, or what)?
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Old 02-04-2009, 05:51 PM   #8
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For those of you who have done both, do you have any tips on how to combine them (i.e., did the yoga work best the day before your lifting, or better during recovery phase, or what)?
Yoga is an exercise that can be done done daily, and it's highly recommended that we stretch every day... you don't have to wait for muscles to heal when doing Yoga, as you have to wait for your muscles to heal and rest when you're weight training. So it really doesn't matter, if you do it before or after a weight workout. When I do Yoga on the same day as weight training I do it afterwards because it's very relaxing and it stretches all your muscles, it's quite nice...
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Old 02-04-2009, 06:10 PM   #9
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Julie: I'm in agreement that it can be done everyday. The only exception is if overstretch something like the hamstring in a downward dog. (Speaking from personal experience. ) Might want to rest that one a little bit.

I like to do yoga stretches before I lift as a gentle warm up and to become reconnected to my body. I also use yoga stretches between sets. Just like Ilene I finish up my workout with yoga poses and stretches. It really is a nice calming and centering experience after grunting and sweating and plowing your way through a lifting session. Yin and Yang.
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Old 02-04-2009, 10:35 PM   #10
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Ok, I guess I was thinking in terms of the poses I do that do stress my muscles, like Warriors on the thighs held for some duration and in several variations, and arm balance poses. They're not as extreme, obviously, as strength training, but they're not just stretches. But I guess to start I'll assume it makes no difference and see how it goes.
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