Does Yoga Build Muscle?
Building muscle is one of the best ways to get and stay healthy. When you build muscle, not only are you enhancing your metabolism, but you are also making daily tasks a little easier on yourself (like finally opening that peanut butter jar you always have to hand to your roommate). But, does this mean that lifting weights is the only way to go for building muscle? Does practicing yoga build muscle? Let’s get into that now.
Benefits of Strength Training
Strength training, also known as resistance training or weight lifting, is essential for several reasons. It involves using external resistance to challenge your muscles, whether through dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, or even your body weight. The main benefit is that strength training helps to protect your heart. One study even found that lifting for less than an hour a week could reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke by up to 70%—and that’s pretty amazing. Strength training, as you might’ve guessed from the name, is also beneficial for stimulating muscle growth and building strength. As you challenge your muscles with resistance training, whether heavier weights or simply your body weight, they become stronger. The benefits of improving heart health, building muscle mass, less chance of injury as you age, less body fat, more confidence, greater speed, and much more—make strength training a must-have in your routine.
Is Yoga Strength Training?
Yoga is meant to help you focus inward. How are you feeling, and how can you be more present? But, one of the added benefits it gives is the ability to workout with just your bodyweight. You may know some people who practice yoga and have long and lean muscles. Ask them, do you weight train? Some may, and some may not. That’s because it is possible to build strength and develop lean muscle mass with yoga. Regular yoga practice allows you to lift your body weight and can even help you discover muscles you didn’t know you had. Not only that, but certain yoga poses also help you to stretch and relieve tension where you may have built it during weight lifting. So, the simple answer is—yes, yoga can help you build strength.
Not All Yoga Is Created Equal In Terms of Building Muscle
While yoga exercises can be used for strength and muscle building, it’s important to note that not all poses have the same goal. There are many types of yoga: Hatha yoga, Yin yoga, Ashtanga, Restorative, Vinyasa, and power yoga, to name a few. But, some of these plant their primary focus on introspection, restoration, or stretching. These types are often considered low-impact exercises. What are low impact exercises? These are exercises that are easier on the joints. Those forms of yoga may not be the best for building muscle mass or muscle tone (but still incredible for your routine). The more relaxed types of yoga are Hatha yoga, Yin yoga, and Restorative. Some other forms of yoga focus on movement along with breathing or holding yoga postures. These include Vinyasa, Hot Yoga, Flow, and Ashtanga. These practices are great for building strength with yoga.
Benefits of Yoga For Building Muscle
If you’re getting ready to step on your yoga mat to stimulate muscle fibers, you’ll be happy to know about the different benefits of yoga for strength training. When you are in yoga practice, the core of your body or abdominal muscles are the main focus. Your instructor or teacher will more than likely have you work on balance, flowing movements, stretching, leg and upper body strength, and the like. This is all fantastic for core strength and stability. As we get older, our balance and flexibility can start to diminish. By focusing on strengthening the muscles around your core and being intentional about balance, you can walk with better posture and stability overall as you age.
Should Yoga Replace Strength Training?
We believe that the best fitness routine is well-rounded. With that being said, some people simply do not like lifting weights and maintain their muscle strength and muscle tone by incorporating HIIT, yoga, PiYo, and plyometrics into their workout. It is important to make sure that you are intentional about strength training in one way or another at least two times per week, according to the American Heart Association.
How Often Should I Practice Yoga
With the variety and low-impact nature of yoga, some people can practice it every single day. Either they are mixing Yin with some Vinyasa and Restorative, or some other combination like power yoga. Studies have also shown that participating in yoga one time per week is enough to reap the physical and mental benefits of yoga. Trying yoga, just one time, can lead to you feeling more relaxed and lighter overall. So, figure out what fits into your schedule—whether that’s 10-minutes every single day, one hour a week, or anything in-between—and stay consistent. Should you do yoga before and after a workout? You can use certain styles of yoga for warming up and cooling down after a workout.
Kick Start Your Strength Training and Yoga Routine with Chuze Fitness
If you would like to practice yoga, you can join in on a yoga class at any of our locations. Our instructors are there to guide you, help correct your form, and cheer you on. Check out a class schedule at the location near you and give it a try. We cannot wait to see you focus on self-care in yoga class.
Ani is the Vice President of Fitness at Chuze Fitness and oversees the group fitness and team training departments. She’s had a 25+ year career in club management, personal training, group exercise and instructor training. Ani lives with her husband and son in San Diego, CA and loves hot yoga, snowboarding and all things wellness.
- Khayela, Annette. “Does yoga build muscle?” Live Science. 21 October, 2021. https://www.livescience.com/does-yoga-build-muscle
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- Ezrin, Sarah. “Is Yoga Strength Training?” Healthline. 1 September, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness/is-yoga-strength-training-2
- Lau, Caren et al. “Effects of a 12-Week Hatha Yoga Intervention on Cardiorespiratory Endurance, Muscular Strength and Endurance, and Flexibility in Hong Kong Chinese Adults: A Controlled Clinical Trial.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2015 (2015): 958727. doi:10.1155/2015/958727