While we often think of yoga and strength training as two very different things, lately I've found that the two compliment each other amazingly.
Likely most yogis do not foresee themselves as gym-goers or crossfit kind of people and most hardcore gym fanatics often think of yoga as too easy or overly relaxing. It's funny how there are so many pre-conceived notions about both forms of wellness and I too participated in these misinformed beliefs.
Recently though, my beliefs have changed because I've seen massive improvements in my yoga practice from strength training.
Strength training could be a variety of things, from HIIT style workouts, weights, cardio, machines at a gym or even forms of hiking and aerobics. Strength training is often though of as a good gym workout but you can do strength training without a gym membership too.
Strength training is effective because often you are targeting and building muscle in specific areas of the body.
How does this improve a yoga practice?
Well, let me share a piece of my own yoga story. I've always had strong legs but have lacked upper body and core strength. Through yoga, I gained enough strength to comfortably stay in downward dog for a couple minutes or hold a plank for a few breaths, but I lacked enough strength for other poses.
Yes, I could flow through a class relatively well, but when we really broke down chaturanga and explored how to properly do it, I realized I didn't have enough strength. (Chaturanga is perhaps the most common pose that people do incorrectly simply because it does require a HUGE amount of arm and core strength).
Things like headstands and forearm stands also seemed impossible because I lacked a strong enough core.
Almost a year ago, I began my fitness journey through HIIT style workouts and I even became one of those wild people who has a gym membership! (I NEVER thought the day would come that I'd be a gym-goer!)
While 20 minutes on the stair master or a 30 minute session with a personal trainer seem so very different than yoga, strength training really is a beautiful addition to any yoga practice.
The more I did at the gym or in my own rustic living room workout space, the further I progressed in my yoga practice.
A year ago an active vinyasa style class with lots of chaturangas and warrior sequences would've left me winded and in child's pose, but because of the strength training I've been implementing, I have far more integrity and stability in these poses.
Of course, yoga truly is not about the asanas or physical postures, but it is a very exciting moment when we find ourselves in a pose that we once thought impossible.
If you are feeling plateaued in your yoga journey or are struggling with certain advanced postures that require a huge amount of strength, I HIGHLY recommend adding in some strength training. If getting a gym membership is enticing to you, fabulous! If not, no worries! Find what works for you!
Life is all about balance and I've found a new level of balance in my life with strength training and yoga.
Me below showing off my new arm muscles!