This is specially for you Gym Monkeys and hardcore tough guys out there, thinking that Yoga is all about oooms and breathing and laying on the floor doing fancy stuff with your hip. While that might actually sound kinky enough to get some of you interested in the topic (gotcha!) it’s not about that kind of exercise but stay with me anyway. 😉
The first time I was confronted with Yoga was in Yoga X in the P90X routine. The image shown is actually one of my first attempts at doing a warrior pose and is NOT a good example of good form at all, that’s beside the points however.
I was really looking forward to something lighter after the strength and plyometric workouts of the previous days, expecting to focus on breathing and relaxing (see the pattern here?) and was thoroughly disappointed, yes even kind of pissed off and totally exhausted afterwards. I wasn’t able to make it through half of the exercises and some of them were so ridiculous I went “are you freaking kidding me?! You want me to balance on my hands only while they already scream from doing push-ups? Right..” I learned fast that there are all different kind of Yoga types that are more or less vigirous and are more or less straining to do. As I understand that version used in P90X is a form of Asthanga Yoga.
Ashtanga yoga, or power yoga, is an ancient system of yoga where you move quickly from one pose to another to build strength and endurance. There is little emphasis on meditation with Ashtanga, and at the end of the session you will feel more like you have completed a traditional weight-training or callisthenic workout than you would with any other type of yoga.
I wondered why a tough guy like Tony Horton would incorporate Yoga into an otherwise hardcore workout that I would also consider being more favoured by male fitness junkies (uoh see, I also felt in the same trap). So I did my own research even though he clearly states that it’s important for your overall fitness and to prevent injury. However I was never one to just believe what I am told so a little bit of investigational work on my part was just the right thing to do.
The main reason Yoga should not be thrown away in the “yeah right” category for people interested in muscle mass is that Yoga works your stabilizer muscles. So first let’s define the difference of the two big muscle groups in the human body:
As the name indicates, those muscles move your body. You can actively contract and relax them and influence them.
Stabilizers are the muscles that keep your movers in place while you use them, help you balance and also limit the range of movement in joints.
Additionally, if you move your mover muscle in a direction it’s not supposed to move you will tear muscle tissue and end up with an injury. The same is true of you overextend a joint because your stabilizers are not strong enough to stop the motion before you go over the threshold.
If that is not enough reason for you, I invite anyone to try to do the first 45 minutes of the Yoga X routine and tell me it won’t work on your chest and leg muscles and that you don’t feel like you just finished a resistance workout. You will do a high amount of plank work while stretching your muscles the same time.
Here are a few addition quotes I found around the internet to strengthen my point:
“When it comes to lifting weights, most people tend to only work the ‘mirror muscles’ — meaning, the chest, biceps, abs and thighs.” “This can cause one side of your body to become stronger than the other, creating a muscular imbalance that can pull the spine out of its natural state of alignment.” A solid yoga program works all of your muscles — front and back –while it stretches them at the same time. “This helps improve your body’s overall posture, allowing it to function more efficiently with less risk of injury.”
Most exercises require you to do 6-12 repetitions each set. This only makes your muscles contract for between 24-48 seconds. With yoga, you may hold a pose for as long as five minutes or more. “Maintaining poses for minutes at a time teaches your muscles to contract for longer periods, which can drastically improve your muscular endurance,”. That means they’ll be less likely to quit on you –both in and out of the gym.
By practising yoga and holding different postures where muscle contractions are maintained in off-balance positions, the stabilizing muscles are directly targeted, unlike any weights offered in a health club. Because these contractions are intense and target different muscles than normal body-building workouts, muscular growth in these muscles will occur.
Yoga X has become one of my most loved workouts in the P90X routines and not only because I can show off with holding crane for quite an amount of time now but because I have this hate/love relationship to it. I love it before and after and hate it during the workout (at least the first 45 minutes). But I can just feel and tell how much it helped me with my overall posture and strength with everything else. Insanity would completely destroy my legs and knees if I wouldn’t have done a round of P90X and specially the Yoga routines first.
And that, to me, is a fact!