Third Dimension Yoga
Yoga helps to strengthen the body and stretch the muscles. But, there is another dimension to yoga, which is muscle building. Yes, you read that right. Weight lifting and gym training are not the only options left for getting that toned body you have been wanting since long. Yoga can help as well. “This is a common myth when it comes to performing yoga. It is believed that one can perform high intensity workouts such as muscle building and weight lifting only by exerting in the gym and not on a yoga mat. An important aspect to consider is that performing yoga is nothing but lifting your own body weight along with all the stretching and strengthening,” says Shalini Bhargava, Director and Fitness Expert, JG’s Fitness Centre.
Yoga is not only about stretching your body and holding it in order to increase your core strength. Each muscle flexes and strengthens while practising yoga. Yoga can be just as operative as weight lifting when it comes to building a robust and impressive physique. “While performing yoga asanas you are putting your body in positions and alignments that you eventually have to support with the help of your muscles. So you are ultimately lifting weights,” says Shalini in favour of the fact. The effect yoga creates on our body might be slow, but is a long lasting one. It stays with you for more.
Gaining and losing
A lot of people still believe that muscle building and toning is a gym routine, it cannot be accomplished on a yoga mat. But, bursting the myth another expert, Luke Coutinho, Adviser of Integrative Lifestyle and Nutrition at Purenutrition.me says, “While it may look like that yoga is just a form of simple stretching routine, the benefits of yoga are much more than that. All yoga postures require us to hold and move between a series of
stationary positions that use isometric contraction and relaxation of different muscle groups to create a specific body alignment using one’s own body weights.” He prefers yoga over the gym and says, “Since in yoga one uses their own body weight for resistance, there is no equipment needed, nor a dedicated space like a gym.”
Building muscles in the gym can make you transform into a beast, whereas yoga will make you strong from within across the physical, mental, and spiritual spectrum. While you perform yoga, you can lift your body efficiently instead of dumbbells. “Additionally some of the yoga postures have the unique ability to break your muscle fibres by generating tension. This enables your body to build more muscle as a backup, thus escalating the muscle mass” Shalini explains the mechanism of muscle building through yoga. Yoga helps you transform holistically with almost no withdrawal effects. Building muscle in the gym comes with a single focus on growing them, and on withdrawal, your body tends to lose the strong grip over your hard gained muscles and you start to gain weight and body fat tends to increase on withdrawing. However, withdrawal of yoga or a pause in the routine does not cause any damage to the body and health.
Asanas in depth
“Vrikshasana is a standing asana which stretches strengthens the leg and increases its firmness,” says Shalini. She further adds “it also helps in expanding the back and arms.” Furthermore, Virabhadrasana has multiple benefits from stretching the chest and muscle to toughening the back and arms. It supports the calves and thighs as well. Trikonasana helps in toughening the arms, legs, knees, and ankles. Further, it expands the hips, spine, and shoulders. It also advances the physical symmetry of the body. All the asanas should be practised on an empty stomach and held for at least 20
However, they need to be performed with the utmost care and precaution as and when practised at home, there is a slight risk of nerve damage in rare occasions. muscle building, one should also be cautious about the formations. Shalini tells us “Along with the many stretching and strengthening postures involved in yoga, the exercise also includes some dynamic styles that are effective for building muscle and burning extra calories. Certain postures can be challenging especially if you have health issues such as glaucoma or high blood pressure. Tearing of muscles is another problem if you are trying to attempt difficult postures time and again.”
Agents to aid
Food intake is always an important aspect of fitness routines. The same applies to yoga. While performing yoga, you not only have to take care of the physical routines but also what goes in. As they rightly say, ‘what goes in, definitely reflects out.’ The expert comment on food intake seconds the statement. Luke suggests a protein-rich diet incorporating lentils and rice, khichdi, eggs, fish etc. He adds “Apart from the diet, try to consume more calories than you expend.”
Lastly, the body needs time to rest and build new muscles. So, one should always practice alternate days and give adequate time to rest.