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Time To Try Yoga?

Being open to new ideas is a vital part of training. The industry is always coming up with new ways to get the most out of our bodies. Granted, yoga can’t really be described as a new concept with it being dated back to the 5th or 6th century BC. That being said, the idea of using yoga to replace traditional weight training is something that is relatively new and only recently has been seriously considered. 

There seems to be this belief that when you train you have to stick to one plan or routine. Maybe it is because that makes it simpler for people or because it provides much needed structure, I’m not really too sure. So this isn’t me saying that if you do yoga that you can never go near the free weights again, or vice versa, but for the basis of comparison it makes sense to consider the two separately.

Now I’m no expert in yoga. In many ways though, yoga is similar to bodyweight exercises and calisthenics. Think about it, just like with calisthenics yoga uses your weight as the resistance and without using other equipment your maximum resistance will always be your total weight. On the other hand traditional weight training has an almost unlimited level of resistance – it is really just dependent upon what weights your gym goes up to.

Increased strength and size are by far the two most common training goals. They aren’t the only ones though. Flexibility, balance and agility are also skills that people often look to develop. In many ways weight training can be seen as restrictive and it doesn’t allow for the inversion that yoga does. So it is pretty safe to say that if you are looking to seriously improve flexibility then yoga is going to be far more suitable for you.

The great thing about training is that if you want to build a particular muscle you can directly focus on it. If you want bigger arms do more bicep curls and if you want bigger legs then do more squats. It isn’t necessarily quite as simple as that but you get the idea. Well yoga can offer similar benefits. Certain poses, like the cobra for example (arguably the most well-known), can be used to focus on your upper body. And then you can use different stances to target improving your lower body, just like you would by using specific exercises in the gym.

Focusing on a specific muscle group is good but generally we try to encourage compound exercises that use a number of them. Well yoga has its answer for this too. The gradual movement in switching to different positions when you are doing yoga allows you to use your entire body.

However you decide to train you need to ensure that your technique is on point. That means making sure you are strictly disciplined to guarantee your form is perfect. It doesn’t matter how you are training if your technique is poor – you will always struggle to get decent results. You need to consider other factors too such as the rate of movement when exercising and your own levels of exertion.

The final thing to mention is the spiritual side to yoga. Yes it can be a wonderful method of exercising but for a lot of people it is much more than that.

There are so many ways you can incorporate new ideas into your workouts. I don’t for one second envisage a world where everyone ditches the weights and moves over to the mats. Yoga is a both an alternative and a supplement in 2015. It can be a great way to warm up for a more vigorous workout. I remember associating yoga with that scene from Calendar Girls  on the hills in Yorkshire. That isn’t the case, anyone can do it and it is a lot easier to get into than it was some years ago.

Your methods depend solely upon your goals and that will never change. Your training technique has to be specifically tailored to meet those goals. One way of doing this is by combining a number of different training methods into one. Maybe it is time to try incorporating yoga into your weekly plan.

Ollie Lawrence
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