When some people think of yoga, they think of slow-paced poses performed in a group class setting, done to relax or improve mobility and flexibility.
This isn’t entirely wrong, but it does beg the questions, Is yoga really exercise? And what type of exercise is yoga?
Here’s the answer: yoga is a form of light-aerobic exercise that can improve general fitness, strength, balance, flexibility, and mobility.
What’s also worth knowing is that there are different styles of yoga, each with various benefits, so the type of exercise it is can also depend on the style of yoga.
And whether you’re considering trying yoga or not, yoga is more interesting than you might think.
So for more information on yoga, including the different types of yoga, whether yoga can build strength, the benefits of yoga, and more, make sure to keep reading!
Does Yoga Really Count as Exercise?
Yoga might be slow-paced and meditative at times, but it still counts as exercise! The reason is simple: any activity that involves purposeful physical movement can be considered exercise – especially when performed to achieve a certain goal.
In addition, yoga can get very physical. Some yoga styles, such as hatha vinyasa yoga, ashtanga yoga, and power yoga, are considered physically challenging, so there is no reason yoga should not be considered exercise!
The Different Types of Yoga
Yep, there are many different styles of yoga. Some yoga styles are more relaxed and slow-paced while others are more physically challenging, involving strength, balance, difficult transitions, and more.
To give you an idea of how broad yoga is, some of the many different types of yoga include:
- Hatha yoga
- Vinyasa yoga
- Iyengar yoga
- Kundalini yoga
- Ashtanga yoga
- Bikram yoga (hot yoga)
- Yin yoga
- Restorative yoga
- Power yoga
Each type of yoga is unique, so it’s well worth trying different styles – as there might be one style of yoga that you like more than the others!
Is Yoga Good for Weight Loss?
It should go without saying that physical activity can aid weight loss. But what about yoga? Can yoga really help you lose weight?
The simple answer is that yoga isn’t the best type of exercise for weight loss, but it can help you to get fitter, get stronger, and, in some cases, even lose weight. This is because yoga can be quite challenging, which can result in an elevated heart rate and the burning of calories.
Both of these can kick-start weight loss. And when paired with a caloric deficit diet, yoga can be even more beneficial for losing weight.
Another reason yoga can be good for weight loss is the fact that it’s beginner-friendly and accessible – especially when compared to other forms of weight loss exercise, such as HIIT and boot camp workouts.
Can Yoga Build Strength?
It’s a fact: yoga can build strength! And you only have to look at yogis who can perform advanced yoga poses, such as peacock pose, scorpion pose, and flying crow pose, to see that yoga can involve raw strength.
But even when advanced yoga poses are not involved, yoga can still help build strength. There are many poses and transitions in yoga that require strength to perform, involving muscle endurance, isometric holds, and plyometric power.
Can Yoga Build Muscle?
If yoga can build strength, then it can definitely help build muscle. It won’t help you to achieve bodybuilder-style muscles, but it can help you to achieve more muscle definition, as well as a fitter, leaner physique overall.
This is especially true for the more physical yoga styles, including hatha vinyasa yoga, power yoga, and ashtanga yoga. Training advanced yoga poses, such as crow pose and peacock pose, will also help you to build muscle.
This is because advanced yoga poses, especially the more difficult arm-balancing poses, involve a level of resistance. And putting your muscles under physical stress, through resistance, will help to build muscle and strength over time.
Does Yoga Improve Mental Health?
Yoga is well-known for its mental benefits. In fact, all kinds of exercise are widely proven to help mental health, so no one should miss out on exercising and the various mental benefits it has to offer!
Just like running, strength training, weightlifting, gymnastics, and other styles of exercise, yoga can definitely help to improve your mental health by providing a sense of achievement and body positivity.
The natural release of endorphins during exercise, in general, will also contribute to you feeling better, healthier, and more confident.
In fact, yoga styles like yin yoga and restorative yoga are designed to be calming, therapeutic, and meditative, making them especially great for achieving an improved mood overall, free of stress and negative thoughts.
The Benefits of Yoga
Whether you’re considering starting yoga or not, it’s worth knowing the different benefits yoga has to offer.
The various benefits of yoga include:
- Yoga has various styles for different preferences and abilities
- Yoga is great for beginners (who are new to exercising)
- Yoga can help weight loss
- Yoga can improve general fitness
- Yoga can build strength
- Yoga can build muscle
- Yoga can improve joint health and joint strength
- Yoga can improve balance and stability
- Yoga can increase mobility and flexibility
- Yoga can improve mental health
Benefits aside, yoga is also fun and can be done in a group yoga class or at home!
Looking for the short answer? Yoga is typically a form of light-aerobic exercise. It offers various benefits, including improving general fitness, strength, balance, flexibility, mobility, and mental health.
Despite that, there are many different types of yoga, so the type of exercise it involves will also depend on the style of yoga performed.
A few examples include yin yoga and restorative yoga, which are more relaxed and slow-paced, along with power yoga and ashtanga yoga, which are considered more physically challenging.
All in all, yoga is a diverse type of exercise, ideal for any age, fitness level, and preference. So if you’re considering trying yoga, you should definitely go for it!
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