Yoga encompasses a range of many different techniques, including body postures and movement, breathing exercises, relaxation, concentration and meditation. There are many different styles of yoga, and the intensity and difficulty, and therefore the fitness benefits, vary between styles. Individual classes and instructors will also vary a lot.
Generally, basic yoga poses can be used to get flexible and improve balance, and gain strength and muscle endurance, while the more intense classes will also go a little way to improve aerobic conditioning. Yoga poses generally work the whole body, though they have an emphasis on the core. If you want to use yoga classes to improve your fitness, look for the words "ashtanga" and "vinyasa", which are the more athletic styles.
For those people with initially low strength and fitness levels, yoga is a great low-intensity exercise to start with. Yoga can be effective at improving many aspects of fitness, but to develop higher levels of fitness you need to progressively increase the load on the body (see the training principles) and most yoga classes will not provide this. Also in terms of aerobic fitness, even the most intense yoga class is no substitute for running, cycling or other aerobic training.
So in conclusion, yoga is a great low-intensity exercise for developing core strength and flexibility, but depending on what your fitness goals are, you may need to supplement yoga classes with other fitness workouts like the gym and long runs.
- Yoga Sport — competitive yoga involving the performance of yoga positions (asanas) in sporting competitions.
- Benefits of Yoga for Footballers
- Chair Yoga - a modification of traditional Yoga which can be done while seated, or standing and using a chair for support.
- What is Yoga?
- Books on stretching and yoga
- The Wim Hof Method — incorporates breathing exercises and mental focus, important elements of yoga training.
- Active stretching list
- The Pilates Training Method
- Bodyweight training
- Balance training
- More Fitness Workouts