Everyone knows yoga is great for turning your body into a pretzel and relieving stress, but have you ever noticed how toned a yogi's arms and legs are?
These people are getting ripped without even stepping one foot into a traditional gym.
This is great news for people who hate spending hours in a room that's blasting bad electro-pop music and being surrounded by huge, veiny (and possibly steroid-induced) biceps.
But how can sun salutations replace pumping iron?
1. Yoga is a form of strength training.
Strength training is a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction, which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance and size of skeletal muscles.
This is exactly what your muscles are doing when you hold poses for extended periods of time.
Have your quads started shaking from holding warrior II for what seems like an hour?
You don't need barbells to get awesome muscles because your body is your barbell. Your body weight is the most practical weight to get used to lifting because it's what you are dealing with 24/7.
According to a study done by the University of Wisconsin's Human Performance Laboratory University, in which subjects practiced Hatha yoga for 55 minutes three days a week for eight weeks, researchers noticed an improvement in their subjects' strength and endurance.
The American Council on Exercise commenting on the study, saying,
In particular, chest and abdominal strength and endurance was increased significantly, enabling the yoga group to perform an average of six more push-ups and 14 more curl-ups following the study period.
2. It's a full-body workout.
Balancing requires control of all of your muscles.
When you simply hold downward dog, you use every muscle in your body, especially your core, to keep from tipping over.
When you pull your chest up and engage your abs at the same time so your back doesn't overextend, the resistance from doing this simple alignment involves your entire body.
Muscles you didn't even know existed will be sore the next day.
Nicholas DiNubile, MD, told Gaiam,
Yoga can be just as effective as weights when it comes to building a stronger, more impressive physique.
3. It doesn't feel like a workout.
If you are focusing on your breath and alignment, you'll probably forget about how hard all your muscles are working.
Honing in on the entire body and its movement is a great distraction from fatigue and sore muscles. Many classes also have peaceful music playing or an instructor with a calming voice giving out instruction.
I personally find this much more fun to work out to than a sped-up Pitbull song and an angry instructor yelling at you to “squat harder.” I mean, squatting harder isn't a thing!
When you are told to do standing forward fold pose, it doesn't automatically register that you'll be working on your quadriceps.
And when you're doing cobra pose, you won't realize it's strengthening your spine, wrists, arms and booty.
5. It's a tried-and-true practice.
People have been practicing yoga since 2250 BC, which is way before any gyms existed.
This was back when people ran to get away from predators, Crossfit was called doing chores and yoga was a technique to release all your pent-up physical energy to prepare for meditation.
Even though yoga has been around forever, its popularity is still growing.
In a study done by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, it was found there are 36.7 million US yoga practitioners.
All of these people are walking around with super cut yogi triceps, so maybe it's time for you to trade in your weights for a mat.
Yoga Alliance Executive Director and COO Barbara Dobberthien said,
Beyond yoga's increasing popularity, what's fascinating is the data shows that those who practice and teach yoga have measurably better perceptions of their individual strength, balance, dexterity, and mental clarity versus non-practitioners.
So, stop forcing yourself to lift random objects to get rid of your breadstick arms and just do some chaturangas.
You can thank me later.