As a trainer I keep updated with all the new things coming on the market. We are looking for the perfect workout. Gadgets, training styles that may or may not last. The world of fitness equipment is ever exploding. A few short years ago the big rage was the Tabata method and HIIT, high intensity interval training. Recently we find more focus on body weight training and Youtube is inundated with videos of very buff guys doing pull ups on playground monkey bars. (Oddly you rarely see videos of women doing the same…)
Though personally I like to mix different styles in my training, I’m a sucker for old school weight training with dumb bells and barbells and I’m also somewhat of a gadget girl getting easily lured into trying the newest thing on the market, the body weight style appeals to me in a big way.
So what IS the Perfect Workout?
Yoga! Really, honestly! … keep on reading!
Yoga is the perfect body weight training. It is functional training, just physically spoken it works on all planes of your body. It provides stretch, strength, flexibility and mental stamina.
I often hear people say that Yoga is not for them, it’s not a workout, it’s boring, it’s for girls, “nah it’s just not for me”. Of course there often is mis-education on Yoga’s spiritual background. Yoga is not a religion. The original purpose of the Yoga poses, or asanas, was to prepare the body and focus the mind in preparation to sit in meditation for long periods of time.
In our western culture this may not be the driving force anymore and Yoga has taken a much more physical stance in health and wellness.
Let’s see how Yoga is in fact a whole body workout.
Often yoga is dismissed and sometimes a person trying it for the first time just doesn’t like the music, is intimidated with terminology or the unknown things they find in a yoga studio, like straps and gadgets and maybe even an altar with “Om” symbols or pictures of deities. Sometimes you just don’t jive with the instructor.
Some people don’t go back because it’s too hard. You may be self conscious because you are
Not as bendy or as stretchy as the person next to you. Or, even though you’ve been working out for many years and consider yourself fit, you find yourself not having the strength and stamina to hold a pose for a long time.
Yoga poses work in an eccentric and isometric range, that means you move your body into a pose and hold it for a number of breaths. This is not only difficult, it can also stretch your mind, pun intended.
Think of all the unnecessary crap your brain is purging when you hold a plank pose for 20 seconds. It’s a mental challenge just as much as physical. Your body will reach steady state fairly quickly at which point the actual holding of the pose and staying in the plank is pure mental strength. That’s when the magic happens, you build strength, stamina, and go through a real mind purge.
Holding poses in yoga is very similar. You may remember the hated wall squat hold you had to perform in PE way back when. The muscle burn and mental chatter.
In most common approaches to fitness we focus more on movement then holds, exercises you move into and hold for only 2 or 3 seconds. However, longer holds are incredibly strength building.
So when you think of doing your next body weight workout, consider including some yoga poses.
Here is a mini workout you can use before or as part of your regular Yoga practice or gym routine:
Start with a round or two of Sun Salutation for strength, spinal flexion and extension, and to get your heart rate up. Sun Salutation are not only the perfect workout, but can also be used as a very effective warm up before your gym routine.
Do some push ups
Move into Warrior 1 do 6 static lunges
Move through one cycle of Sun Salutations
Warrior 1 again, lunges on the other side
Step into Chair Pose. Hold. Hold a little longer.
Move into high Plank. From there move into low Plank on your elbows.
Hold. Hold a little longer.
Cobra pose. Take a deep breath. Let it out and move into Childs Pose.
From here you can chose to move onto your back into Savasana, or corpse pose, or do your regular after workout stretches.
Try this and then let me know if you still feel that yoga can’t be part of your workout. Share your thoughts below.
If you want to learn more about how Sun Salutations can increase strength, stamina and flexibility while helping you calm your mind and improve your sleep, join me in the 108 Yoga Challenge!