Are you wondering if yoga is really better than other exercise methods? You might be surprised to hear that yoga has many benefits you won’t get from other practices.
Not only does yoga work the entire body, but it also calms and restores the mind. Yoga relaxes your body, gets your heart rate up, and burns fat and calories all at the same time.
And if you’re looking to lose weight, yoga is a fantastic way to stimulate weight loss and keep the weight off over the long haul. It’s every bit as beneficial as cardio, without the stress on your joints.
Are you still wondering if yoga is right for you? Let’s dive into ten benefits of practicing yoga compared to other exercise methods so you can make an informed decision.
1. Yoga works the muscles in your entire body.
Yoga requires you to use all of the muscles in your body through intense stretching and holding the various poses. This is one of the main differences between yoga vs Pilates. At first glance, it might seem like the two practices are very similar, but unlike yoga, Pilates focuses strictly on the major muscle groups.
In fact, most cardio and strength training workouts focus only on the large muscle groups, as well. But even more than that, the twisting and stretching required to perform the yoga poses also benefit your circulatory, lymph, digestive, and immune systems. This supports detoxification and organ health, including a healthier heart and liver. That’s a benefit you won’t see from any other type of exercise.
2. Yoga will make you lean and it’s more efficient.
Stretching and working your muscles at the same time not only makes you stronger, but it also makes you lean. Lifting weights, on the other hand, builds bulky muscle.
Not only that, but yoga uses your own body weight for strengthening, instead of weights. Using weights is less efficient because it works isolated muscles, which means you have to work out a lot longer to hit all the important areas.
3. Yoga is a holistic practice.
Yoga doesn’t just help you tone up your muscles and lose weight like most types of exercise. It also helps you be in the moment and promotes positive energy. Meditation, a key component of yoga, provides benefits for your mind, body, and soul. Most other workouts simply focus on improving your physical condition.
4. Yoga builds balance, flexibility, and strength.
Doing yoga builds balance, flexibility, and strength while toning your muscles. Strength training and cardio can build strength and tone muscles, but they don’t do much for improving your flexibility or balance.
Yoga has the unique ability to provide all of these effects in one workout. This not only gives you a leaner body but also improves your posture and reduces your risk of injury in daily life as well as when you’re participating in other sports.
5. Just about anyone can practice yoga.
Regardless of age or body type, almost anyone can practice yoga, especially Iyengar Yoga. In fact, yoga can help those who may not be able to do other types of exercise due to chronic pain or physical restrictions. The intensity of the practice can easily be adapted to suit any fitness level, and props can also be incorporated for those with limited flexibility and even expecting mothers.
6. You can practice yoga anywhere.
Yoga doesn’t require much space, no special equipment, and it won’t disturb your downstairs neighbors. You can practice yoga in your living room, at the office, in the park, in a hotel room… pretty much anywhere you have enough space to stretch out your arms. All you need is a yoga mat or a towel and you’re good to go. Most other types of exercise require more space or specialized equipment, and they are often noisy, which means you can’t work out without disturbing other people.
7. Yoga calms your mind.
Yoga is just as beneficial for the mind as it is for the body. Working through the poses and focusing on your breathing diverts the mind away from anxiety, worry, and stress. In fact, the breathing exercises taught in yoga can be used to calm your mind at any time, even when you’re not on your mat.
8. Yoga improves patience and focus.
Patience and focus are important qualities that everyone can benefit from, from children to senior adults. These qualities will help you at work or school, as well as in your relationships and everyday activities.
9. Yoga promotes self-acceptance.
Yoga promotes self-love and self-acceptance of all your strengths and weaknesses. While most other forms of exercise are about self-improvement, yoga is about self-acceptance. Many other exercises and sports will leave you feeling like a failure if you can’t keep up, but yoga rewards your individuality and builds self-confidence as your skills improve.
10. Yoga is kinder to your body.
Yoga has the unique ability to be intense yet gentle on the body at the same time. It builds up heat and works your muscles without giving your joints the pounding that weightlifting does. Weightlifting also leaves you more prone to injury because you’re at greater risk of overdoing it or performing the exercise incorrectly.
Wrapping Things Up
One of the key benefits of yoga is its ability to reduce stress, and that’s something we can all benefit from. On the other hand, the competitive nature of the gym and many sports activities, along with the noise and bright lights, are actually more likely to increase your anxiety and stress. With regular yoga practice, you might even find that you can handle stress more easily and your daily stress levels decrease.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
NICOLE MCCRAY Nicole is an experienced content writer with a passion for all aspects of wellness. She worked a side gig at a yoga studio for years before becoming a mom, and absolutely fell in love with holistic and alternative therapies during her first pregnancy. She’s been proclaimed the “health nut” amongst family and friends, and when she’s not writing, Nicole can be found studying to become a health coach and reading up on all aspects of healthy living!
ada lusardi says
Hi Nicole, I’m curious what sources support your articles’ claim that Pilates and other athletic training systems focus strictly major muscle groups. Would you be willing to share?
Thanks for your consideration.