1 February 2021

Is Yoga a Workout? Here's the Answer

Yoga is an ancient training and spiritual system devised over centuries to bring adherents into the best physical and mindful shape possible. It delivers a very comprehensive exercise system though, because it can be gentle and can emphasize relaxation over hard training, many people question whether it really is a workout.

Let’s put this one to bed.

Is yoga a workout?

Yes, it absolutely is ‘a workout’. However, rather than think in terms of ‘working out’, try thinking in terms of ‘training’. You are training towards a specific goal, rather than simply moving for the sake of moving.

If your goal is to get stronger, develop core stability, improve mobility and/or flexibility, to improve mindfulness, to relax, to put in some time actively recovering from lifting weights, or any mixture of the above, yoga is a potent training system. It will work perfectly. If these are not your goals, you may want to look elsewhere.

Is yoga enough to get toned?

Kind of, in that any exercise system can be enough to get you looking toned. Being ‘toned’ means having visible, defined muscle, which means having developed muscle mass combined with low body fat percentages. Yoga mixed with a balanced, low calorie diet will certainly achieve this.

Is yoga or gym better for weight loss?

Yoga is not a potent weight loss tool. In most instances, it isn’t particularly calorically demanding. As weight loss depends on building and maintaining a caloric deficit, this is problematic. If you simply want to shed the pounds, a harder form of interval training such as HIIT, Tabata or circuit training may be a better bet.

However, there are some weight loss advantages to yoga. First off, though it is minor, there is a caloric demand to performing yoga. Secondly, it is perfect for active recovery, between gym days, keeping you from growing sore whilst still burning a little energy and building strength. Third, it does build muscle, which is metabolically demanding, so you will burn more energy at rest than you would without this extra mass. Fourth, it is relaxing. It will diminish cortisol levels in your body. Cortisol is a leading factor in weight gain and retention, so limiting its presence in your body will help you to be able to burn fat.

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