It's well known that yoga can do great things for your flexibility, but can yoga get you fit? We spoke to a yoga instructor to find out more.
Gustavo Padron is a fitness instructor based in Texas, who ended up discovering yoga when trying to recover from a hamstring injury from running. He has now been practising for eight years, and is an instructor at Glo, an online yoga, meditation and Pilates platform (where there's a currently a deal running, if this inspires you to signing up for some online classes). He specialises in Yoga Conditioning and Vinyasa Flow classes. Here's everything you need to know about using yoga to get fit.
Can yoga get you fit?
"There are different styles of yoga that range from restorative to a more athletic and vigorous practice," explains Gustavo. "While restorative and more mellow classes offer us an opportunity to relax, unwind and slow down, practices that are more active and athletic can help us build strength, stamina and endurance. Practicing yoga conditioning can be super fun and a very efficient way to help you get fit."
If you want to use yoga to improve strength and tone up, you want to go for a class that is more athletic in nature. Common ones to look out for include Power Yoga, Yoga Conditioning and Yoga Sculpt.
You don't need to pick one type and stick to it, though. "I recommend listening to your body and honouring what it needs that day," he continues. "There are days that I need a strong, sweaty, and active class whereas there are days I need to chill in a child's pose."
You don't need much to get started – make sure you're kitted out with a good mat (our best yoga mat guide has plenty of tried and tested recommendations), and if you're getting sweaty, a yoga towel can help.
If you're practising at home, here are some of Gustavo's favourite strength-building poses to build into your session:
- Chair pose
- High Crescent Lunge
- Warrior II
- Plank to Chaturanga
- Forearm Plank
- Boat Pose
- Yogi Bicycles
- Leg raises
- Bridge Pose
How to use yoga for fitness: top tips
1. Don't go too hard
"The number one mistake I see people making is coming out of the gate too hot. While this style of yoga is vigorous and athletic, moving mindfully and with intention is key to avoiding injuries," says Gustavo. You might be moving slowly, but there's still plenty of scope to do yourself some damage if you push yourself too hard. "As always, listen to your body. If something hurts, pull back, check your form and ask for guidance from your instructor."
2. Try gentler classes on rest days
While certain types of yoga can be great for improving fitness, gentler styles can also be hugely beneficial as part of a balanced fitness routine. "Incorporate other styles of yoga on your recovery days to offset the soreness and give your body an opportunity to reset and restore," suggests Gustavo.
3. Up the ante with props
Often you might find yourself using props like yoga bricks, straps or bolsters to help you in your poses, but for fitness yoga you can incorporate more traditional workout accessories. "The use of props such as wrist and ankle weights, dumbbells and/or resistance bands can be incorporated to build strength and stamina as by adding resistance training in your yoga practice," suggests Gustavo.
Proceed with caution, though, and remember that you can still get an amazing workout with no props at all. "If you are just starting your yoga conditioning journey, I recommend that you stick to body weight exercises, build strength and confidence in the moves, then add props," he continues.
Glo online yoga platform | now $24 for 3 months with code CELEBRATEYOGA
Glo has an extensive library of on-demand yoga, meditation and Pilates classes, covering a range of ability levels and styles. Usually, it's $24 a month for access, but for a short time you get your first three months for $24 total.
Deal ends midnight 26 June