Shaping Up: Yoga and Fitness

“How can yoga help me be fit?”

Though you probably know at least one answer to this question, I’d like to give you more ideas on how to stay in shape with the help of yoga.

We all want to look and feel good, and physical fitness is a huge key which, balanced with healthy eating and meditation, can make all the difference in your quality of life.

The first thing I’d like to point out is that you want to supplement your yoga with other activities for a balanced approach to fitness. Unless you’re doing something like 2 hours of intensely playful, challenging yoga 5 times a week, you need to do some cardio.

That said, yoga is the number one thing you can do for all the systems in your body. It gets your circulation going, lubricates joints, strengthens muscles and stretches what’s tight. It balances your hormones, lowers stress levels, helps keep your internal organs happy and boosts your immune system.

The following list will give you ideas to get more out of your yoga and fitness practices.

  • Know What You’re Doing: Yes, doing yoga at home is awesome! Definitely have a personal practice. But it’s important to understand alignment principles so you stay safe. Check in with a highly qualified instructor on a regular basis so you avoid developing habits of misalignments that can lead to injury. Attending a class can also help you be more creative in your own practice. Look for a world class yoga instructor in your area. Anusara® yoga will teach you optimal alignment and a fun approach to practice.
  • Play With Arm Balances: Weight bearing exercises are key in keeping your bones healthy. Arm balances are fun and a great way to build strength and balance. Doing a few push-ups here and there will also help you build strength.
  • Incorporate Core Exercises: Adding abdominal and back strengtheners to your practice will help you feel strong, healthy, and invigorated. As with everything, make sure you’re doing them in alignment.
  • Use Music: Put on some of your favorite music and groove as you practice. I find music helps me have more energy and fun while I practice. It doesn’t have to be yoga music – anything you like will do. Just remember to center in at the beginning with silence, and either turn the music off or put on something soothing for savasana at the end of your practice.
  • Make It A Party: Invite friends who are into yoga (preferably around your level of ability) to come play. Having people to share your practice with can be motivating and you may find you practice more intensely and for longer periods of time. You can even take turns suggesting postures to challenge yourselves. Just make sure to use alignment to stay safe if you’re trying things you haven’t done before, or ask a teacher to show you how before you play with them on your own.
  • Keep It Balanced: Alternate between strong, challenging practices and soothing, more restorative ones. Remember that the body needs that balance, and it may not be appropriate for you to push hard every day. You can also do a more invigorating practice in the morning and a more nurturing practice in the evening, which will help you have energy during the day and also have a good night’s sleep.

Other Exercise: Walk, run, bike, swim, dance – whatever makes you feel good. Just make sure you get your body moving at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes. This kind of exercise is an important supplement to your yoga practice, and will help you to have more energy and more fun!


3 thoughts on “Shaping Up: Yoga and Fitness

  1. This was a helpful perspective regarding the mix of yoga with other forms of exercise, as well as the balance of challenging and restorative yoga. Thanks!

  2. Christine,

    I’m glad you like the article! Thanks for the comment. It can be tricky to balance all the aspects of a complete yoga/fitness routine in your week, but using these tips and other approaches that resonate with you, finding harmony and a strong body is more easily achievable.

    Enjoy your practice!


  3. Thanks so much for writing this. I get a surprising number of questions and comments where people seem to think that a) if they do yoga, they do nothing else, or b) that yoga is, in itself, a full physical workout. For me, I use yoga as a component of my wellness routine. It increases flexibility, builds muscle strength and prevents injury. But practising as part of a kula is enjoyable and uplifting, plus provides support that I can only get as part of a group of like-minded loving individuals.

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