Thursday, September 15, 2016

The benefits of yoga for physical fitness


I read a lot these days about fitness. I know that I have to change my daily routines. My injured sacroiliac joint tells me this. I found a book that acknowledges my experiences with Ashtanga yoga.

Here is  a quote from the book 'Which comes first, cardio or weights?' by Alex Hutchinson, Ph. D..

Page 136 ff:

What are the benefits of yoga for physical fitness?
"..........Considered strictly as a form of exercise, yoga has many strengths and a few key weaknesses. A 2001 study at the University of California, Davis, found that an eight-week program of two 90-minute hatha yoga classes per week led to significant increases in strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility. Other studies have found improvements in balance and even bone density. This is not really surprising - yoga is, after all, a weight-bearing physical activity.

........
A more controversial question is whether yoga is vigorous enough to count as aerobic exercise that improves cardiovascular fitness. While the UC-Davis study observed a small but measurable improvement of 6 percent in aerobic fitness, other studies have failed to confirm this. In a 2001 Northern Illinois University study of 45-minute "power" (ashtanga vinyasa) yoga sessions, the participants' heart rates stayed below the recommended threshold for aerobic exercise. ........But at a certain pint, it's probably best to accept yoga's strengths and weaknesses rather than to fight them, and seek your aerobic exercise in other ways. After all, McCall points out, having a balanced approach is a writhy yogic principle - that's why he hikes, bikes, and dances in addition to doing yoga."

End of quote.

My own experience is that I got stronger during all the years of practicing Ashtanga yoga, but not strong enough to perform some of the challenging asanas of the series. This is why I add strength training now. My physio-therapist, who got to know my body even realized that I'm very flexible, but I lack strength. This I want to balance these days.

That my sweaty yoga practice is not a work-out shocked me. I few months ago I discovered fitbit and it allowed me to measure my heart rate. It stayed the same during the practice. Only during the sun salutations in the beginning it went up. This is why I take the steps, every step that comes in my way as fast as possible. Then my heart starts racing......

As mentioned in my last blog posts, I do strength training these days before my practice 3 times a week. My surprise: It prepares my body perfectly for the asana practice. I feared I would be too tired when I do exercises already before the practice, but this was not the case. Some of my readers are already curious what I do. I work with a book by Paul Wade. It's great. Pictures will come......

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