This is a guest post by Vanessa Jones.
We’ve all heard that yoga will help improve concentration, decrease stress, and relax muscles, so after experiencing tight muscles and tension from my desk job I decided to start taking yoga classes at my gym. It wasn’t long before I began experiencing the “feel good” benefits yoga, but soon I started wondering if I would reap any physical benefits as well. Even though yoga class wasn’t necessarily a breeze, I didn’t exactly always break a sweat either, so I often found myself hitting the elliptical machine before or after class to get my “real” workout in. If you are experiencing a similar situation, let me share what I’ve learned, that physical fitness is about more than just burning calories and yoga is a great way to get there.
photo credit: milopeng
Just because you aren’t in the weight room doesn’t mean you aren’t working your muscles. The difference between a dumbbell and a yoga mat is that one bulks up your muscles and the other one tones them. Yoga positions and flows require us to work with our own body weight and as muscles are engaged to support it they become stronger and more defined. Rather than isolating one muscle group at a time, yoga works muscles all over the body in a balanced way. If you’re going for a leaner, longer look, you don’t have to strain to lift a barbell you just have to lift yourself.
While you might not burn as many calories in a yoga class as you would on an elliptical machine, the long term benefits it has on your metabolism may make up for it. Slow metabolism can sometimes be blamed on a sluggish digestive system and liver. Yoga requires you to engage your core muscles and focus on your abdomen where the digestive system in located. This not only stimulates the digestive system but strengthen those muscles. Strong abdomen muscles help you hold your body correctly which in turn improves digestive function as you are not compressing the intestines.
Those who are flexible have better workout results as flexibility improves physical performance, decreases risk of injury, and reduces muscle soreness. But becoming more flexible is about more than just stretching your main muscle groups for ten minutes before you hit the treadmill. An hour of yoga will improve your flexibility much faster as it works and stretches opposing muscles comprehensively and allow them to loosen as they receive more oxygen. Yoga stretches not only the muscles, but the tissues around them such as ligaments, tendons, and the fascia sheath. When muscles are tight they hold on to toxins like lactic acid which can cause pain and tension and make it harder to be active. Yoga also stretches the joints helping lubricate them and increase their range of motion, which also makes exercise easier.
Yoga improves blood circulation as its movements and breathing techniques allow for more oxygen and nutrients to reach the muscles and organs. Better circulation will make your heart healthier, therefore making it easier to get through those tough cardio workouts. And if you practice yoga regularly, you might not have to spend as much time on cardio equipment to burn more calories as increased circulation reduces cortisol levels and regulates other hormones, which may be the reason you have packed on those few extra pounds.
I have written an article about Yoga burn for woman please check that out..!