10 reasons why yoga is better than the gym

  1. It’s not boring!  You have someone guiding you for the whole hour or so, with the focus on how your body feels, and your breath.  Kind of like having a personal trainer, except without spending $70-100/hour.  Wandering the gym floor, waiting for equipment, and those grating dance remixes over the sound system can really take their toll, day in and day out.
  2. Work out all your muscles, not just bi’s, tri’s, chest, lats, hams, quads, calves, and the top layer of abs.  With yoga, you are engaging many more muscles in the body,
  3.  from the superficial, outer ones to the deep, inner muscles in the body.  All the core muscles, all the rotator cuff muscles, plus the myriad of smaller muscles all over the body.  Note:  because there is very little “pulling” action in yoga, the biceps do not usually get big with yoga.  So guys, you can top those up with dumbbells at home.  A pull-up bar is also useful since lats also do not get worked very hard in yoga.  Luckily, triceps do get worked out well with all those chaturunga dandasana poses, so “chicken wing arms” get eliminated!
  4. Get strong – not bulky.  Yoga builds actual strength, in a lean frame.  I used to be bigger and more muscular as a gym rat, but I was not really as strong as I am now.  My endurance is better, too.
  5. It’s cardio!  Flow yoga, Bikram, and other forms of hot yoga (in that order) burn 400-600 calories in an hour.  Other forms of non-heated yoga also can be vigorous, burning calories while you build strength.  And in a less boring way than the treadmill.
  6. Yoga studios are more social than gyms.  Depending on the studio, whether there is a lounge area or not, and whether it’s larger or smaller, you will probably start getting to know the regulars, who usually gather at the same studio at the same time for the same class.  With an 80% + female population, most studios are a less threatening environment than gyms.  Or maybe yoga peeps are just friendlier than weightlifters!  With yoga, there is a sense of community.  (Just don’t talk during the actual classes!)
  7. Lower risk of injury.  At the gym, without a trainer, you are at a greater risk for strains (muscles) and sprains (ligament and tendon injury) than in a yoga class.  Yoga is taught with progressive modifications from beginner to advanced, and classes themselves are usually rated from Level I to III.  All my rotator cuff and lower back injuries occurred at the gym.  Yoga has only improved my lower back pain, and even the osteoarthritis in my neck.  Flow yoga specifically has strengthened my rotator cuff and shoulder muscles extremely well.
  8. With yoga, you also get a meditation in.  Yoga is a “moving meditation” with an inward focus on how your body feels, what it is doing, and the sound of your breath.  No time for  the mind to wander.  Additionally, the final savasana (corpse pose) where you lie down after all the hard work, gives you the perfect opportunity to clear your mind before you get up and go.  That uplifted feeling you get after yoga comes from these meditative effects.
  9. Anxiety, depression, and attention deficit have been treated with yoga.  Many mental health issues have benefitted from yoga.  Personally, I have felt a sense of “capability” wash over me as I first began yoga (Bikram) in 2006.  The uplifting, joyous post-yoga feeling has rescued me from many a dark day.  And that sense of calmness that you develop in yoga helps to flatten out life’s ups and downs, for less of that roller coaster experience.
  10. Feel young.  Increased range of motion and flexibility takes away your aches, and the crankiness that comes with them.
  11. Detoxification.  The “squeeze and soak” action of twisting, compressing, stretching, then releasing the organs and tissues brings fresh blood supply to hard to reach areas.  Inversions (upside down poses) are incredibly beneficial for detoxification, and all the other well-known health effects of yoga.

Author: Ian Batt

Yoga blogger and digital marketing & commerce guy.

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