Getting In Shape With YogaBy WanderfulSoul | Comments: 1 | May 11, 2017
Anyone who has tried it knows yoga is a great workout. With a connection of mind & body, yoga is the full package on the path to building a healthier you.
Many of the travelers at our luxury yoga retreats come to take advantage of yoga’s known ability for stimulating relaxation and clarity. However, the benefits go far beyond. Yoga is a balance of mindfulness and wellness.
The wellness aspect of yoga offers one of the best ways to get in shape for any body shape, age, or goal set. Yoga also improves strength, cardio, flexibility, and lung function.
Yoga For Fitness
To demonstrate the value of yoga for achieving fitness, we looked at the four key faculties of fitness. Cardio, muscular fitness, flexibility, and body composition.
Cardio Health Defined
Cardiovascular health is related to the health of heart, aerobic function, and the circulatory system. A cardio workout is achieved by maintaining an elevated heart rate for an extended period of time. It is often associated with endurance, ability to not get winded, and sports like jogging.
Muscular Fitness Defined
There are two areas of muscular fitness. The first is muscle strength. Muscle strength is how heavy you can lift. The second is muscular endurance, which is how long you can last.
Flexibility is measured by ability of a muscle or joint to move through its full range of motion. High flexibility reduces muscle soreness and likelihood of injury. It is most commonly associated with stretching.
Body Composition Defined
Body composition in fitness is a measurement of fat, muscle, bone, and water in the body. Body fat percentage, body mass index (BMI) and hydrostatic weighing are all commonly used to determine body composition.
The Effectiveness Of Yoga For Fitness
Yoga has proven to be effective in improving all four of these areas of fitness. A study at UC Davis demonstrated the effectiveness of yoga for fitness. The study focused on women at the university who entered an 8 week yoga program. They measured their performance at the beginning of the program, and then at the end, seeing drastic results.
Yoga Improves Cardiovascular Health
After practicing yoga for just 8 weeks, researchers found notable improvements in cardiovascular health. The average absolute oxygen intake increased by 7%, indicating greater lung capacity, circulation, and oxygen intake. Yoga has also been shown to benefit the heart by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
Yoga Improves Muscular Fitness
Yoga showed definite improvements in both muscular strength and muscular endurance.
Muscular endurance improvements after 8 weeks of yoga:
- 57% Improvement
Muscular strength improvements after 8 weeks of yoga:
- Elbow Extension: 31%
- Elbow Flexion: 19%
- Knee Extension: 28%
- Knee Flexion: 57%
Yoga Improves Flexibility
Flexibility is one of the most recognized physical benefits of yoga. So it is not surprising that the study saw a significant improvement in flexibility after the 8 week yoga program. That being said, the results were impressive.
Flexibility improvements after 8 weeks of yoga:
- Ankle Flexibility Improvement: 13%
- Trunk Flexion Improvement: 14%
- Shoulder Elevation Improvement: 155%
- Trunk Extension Improvement: 188%
Can I Get Fit Doing Only Yoga?
For most fitness goals, you could get fit through doing yoga alone. However, it is often advisable to add in other workouts as well, such as running and weight training to help add variety and balance to your fitness regiment. Even at yoga retreats travelers take advantage of the time between classes to hike trails or run along beaches.
When it comes to getting and staying fit, what you need most is to find fitness activities you enjoy. Some people only enjoy yoga and not other types of fitness, and that’s okay. One of the most important ingredients to sticking with a fitness routine is finding an activity you enjoy.
If you do decide that yoga is the only fitness activity you want to do, remember that frequency matters, and so does variation – so try more than one type of yoga.
Different styles of yoga have different advantages. Hatha yoga builds strength and muscular endurance with poses being held long. Yin yoga is especially useful for improving flexibility. Vinyasa and Ashtanga, are great for cardio, increasing heart rate and burning calories.
As you begin to reach your fitness goals, you may even find you start to enjoy other fitness activities in addition to yoga. We always encourage trying and exploring new places and activities! Cross-training can also improve your yoga performance.
Yoga’s Effect On Weight Loss
As we saw with the UC Davis study, practicing yoga offers overall fitness improvements, cardio health, muscular health, and flexibility. All of these have a great impact on improving weight loss and muscle tone, two of the most common fitness goals.
Remember, physical exercise alone is only half of the solution to staying healthy. Eating well is just as important. The best approach to improving your eating habits differs from person to person. Some prefer full immersion, making a major switch over. Others find that this approach ends up only lasting short term – and prefer starting by trying to make healthier choices and trying new healthy foods to slowly transition to a healthier lifestyle.
One of the major benefits of yoga to improving your eating habits is achieving better awareness of your body. Awareness of your body carries over to more mindful eating. You become more sensitive to your body’s needs and tend to be more mindful of healthy choices when you put work into fitness.
Diet vs Lifestyle: What’s The Difference
A diet is generally a temporary solution for temporary results. Eating healthy and remaining healthy is a lifestyle. It looks beyond a goal weight, body fat %, or BMI. Although these body image factors improve, the real focus is on improving actual health. This focus helps to keep you healthy and feeling good.
Destination Fitness: Fitness Vacations
Vacations and holidays often end up being used for overindulgence and excess in food, drink, and lethargy. While these things can be a relief in moderation, wouldn’t it be nice to come back from a vacation feeling better than when you left?
This thought is why there is a rising trend in wellness travel. Travelers around the world are turning to yoga travel destinations so that they can return to their lives healthier, more mindful, and relaxed. Visit WanderfulSoul today to book your next luxury yoga retreat.