Is yoga considered an exercise?
While the Ancient Yogi's did not develop yoga to be a physical exercise to work the body in ways that we see exercise as today, they did create the physical postures (known as asana in Sanskrit) to help increase strength, flexibility and balance in their bodies with the purpose of increasing their ability to sit in meditation to ultimately pave the way for a long life of growth and learning.
Yoga as exercise for the mind
A good friend and yoga student of mine recently told me that she struggled with the idea of giving an hour week to yoga and would rather use her time for more cardiovascular exercise.
Like Katie, many see yoga as a not so vigorous form of exercise. And with so many demands on our time, we may choose going for a run over getting on the mat, with the belief that that'll burn more calories and is a better use of our time.
After discussing some of the many benefits of yoga (see below), we came to the understanding that viewing yoga as an exercise for the mind was a great middle ground. We take care of our bodies, so we should take care of our minds too.
So, yes run run run! Or whatever cardio you love. It's important to feel those endorphins racing around the body. It's also a great way to manage stress and strengthen our immune systems. But coupled with yoga, you'll soon see how they can be very complimentary to each other.
After a few weeks of doing a regular yoga class, you'll soon see that it does a lot more for your body than you may have initially thought!
Can yoga help me lose weight?
Yoga can absolutely help you to lose weight. We've all been on a diet at some point in our lives, tried to up the amount of exercise we do and reduce the amount of calories we eat. Does taking up running or banning yourself from chocolate for a month ring any bells? Yoga can help you to lose weight in more ways than one.
1. Yoga will burn calories
When you practice physical postures you are using your muscles to hold the weight of your body, so yes, even though you probably won't be dripping or sweat or have your heart rate through you ears like in cardiovascular exercise, you are building strength from the inside out, burning calories and losing weight!
2. Yoga will help to tone your body
Many yoga postures contribute towards toning your physical body. Twists and side stretches will help the tone the waistline, arm balances will help to tone the shoulders and arms, leg balances will do the same for the legs, and backbends will strengthen and tone your back.
3. Yoga will help you to eat less
Yoga changes your relationship to your body, which in turn changes your relationship to what you want to put inside of it. You may suddenly realise you're swapping your sugary afternoon snack for a piece of fruit or your evening beverage for a cup of tea instead of a beer.
None of the above is an overnight fix, but I challenge you to a month of regular asana classes and you will see a change in your body! And of course, your mind.
What are the benefits of doing yoga?
All of us will have a different experience with yoga and the benefits for each of us are as wonderful and varied as our sock drawers.
Physically, you may feel stronger, more flexible, less achy, your kinks and creases ironed out.
Mentally, you may feel more balanced, better able to process thoughts and deal with the day-to-day goings-on.
Emotionally, you may feel calmer and more centred.
There are no promises, but it's likely you won't regret it!
Katie on Yoga
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Carrie is a co-founder of The Frog Project, yoga teacher, yoga teacher trainer and full time stay at home mum to two smalls. When she's not playing with the kids or practicing yoga, you'll likely find her in the middle of her veg patch, trowel in hand and covered in mud. She loves the outdoors, and would camp every night given the chance. She and her partner in crime, Martin, set up The Frog Project with the aim of bringing classical yoga to all, and deliver live online classes with a group of dedicated teachers, to students of all experiences, ages, shapes, sizes, jobs, lives, you name it, from all around the world. Join them now and get 15 days of free unlimited classes. It's just yoga.