There almost seems to be 2 different types of people: Yoga people and Gym people.
The “gym people” have their world: Strength, sweat, mirrors, kicking ass, and grunting. They think yoga is all about chanting and laying on the floor. “Yoga people” have one as well: incense, bliss, inner wisdom, vegetarianism, and bending their limbs into pretzels. I am stereotyping of course but a lot of people really think that!
As usual, I fit into all of the above: I love both. I used to think I had to choose one or the other to really be focused. I would flip flop between the two and take time off yoga when I was really into weight lifting and then I’d miss it so I’d go back to the studio and soon enough I would miss that intense burn I got from lifting. I had my “workout” friends who talked about protein shakes, fitness models, deep squats, and lactic acid. And I had my yoga friends who talked about chakras, alignment, breath, and shivasana.
It slowly dawned on me how much ALIKE yoga practice and lifting really are. How the focus, the commitment, the constant study and learning, the respect, the history, the unwavering passion and discipline that play an important role in both.
Why would anyone shun one for the other? Fear of change? Fear of stepping outside of their comfort zone and letting their minds and bodies experience something different? Everyone knows that cross-training produces the best results and mixing up our physical activity is important. Weight bearing exercise, particularly for women, is extremely important in helping to prevent osteoporosis and other bone fractures. I’m not sure I can get that from yoga alone.
If “gym people” are reluctant to try yoga because they think it’s not going to be a good “workout” then they obviously have never tried Ashtanga, or Bikram which completely kicks my ass! I challenge anyone to try either of those styles of yoga and not be humbled by the mere physical strength and stamina they take. If “yoga people” don’t want to go to a gym, think about this: the stronger your muscles in your chest, shoulders, legs, and back get from weights, the deeper and more fully you can go into the postures while protecting your joints. I was told once by a trainer I was too flexible and that was a dangerous way to be with no protection around my ligaments or joints. At the time I had stopped going to the gym and was doing only yoga.
I have finally found an equal and healthy relationship between weight lifting, cardio, and flexibility through yoga. I am more balanced and my body feels better than it ever has. Can yoga build muscle? Yes, but not like weight bearing exercise. And stretching after a work-out is great but how many people really take time to do that properly?
Find what works for you and then try something new once in awhile. Our bodies change all the time and what once worked may need to be altered or changed for new results. Change is good!