It’s hard to believe we’ve been living in San Diego for almost 7 months now.
At first the adjustment was incredibly challenging. The massive strip malls with neon lights, the non-stop traffic, and well, so many people everywhere was a shock to the system. I also found myself feeling like an outsider in my own culture. Something about the hustle ‘n bustle shop ‘till you drop mentality just didn’t sit the same with me anymore.
It left me feeling a bit unsettled and in need of some serious grounding.
Although I have never been a committed yogi, I have had periods over the last decade where I would go for shorts bursts. I learned from those times the profound impact yoga could have on my internal world. Calming my mind, creating internal peace, and allowing for a certain ease and flow with all that was going on around me.
So Nick and I went on a mission to find a yoga studio we liked and we started practicing daily. You may have read Nick’s post here where he mentions we’ve been to over 100 yoga classes. It is through this practice that I have received immense benefits.
At first I was solely focused on the mental and emotional impacts of yoga. They are incredible and completely underrated. Spending an hour focusing all your energy on your breath gives you a release from the world around you and an opportunity to ground deeper in your emotional state and body. Shavasana, the deep relaxation pose after you’ve exhausted your practice, is nothing less than a few minutes of sheer bliss and unfettered joy – words just don’t do justice. It alone makes every yoga class worth it weight in gold.
But in terms of the physical practice, I wasn’t sure what I would get.
From my point of view, lifting weights to build muscle and shed fat is key to the toned shape most women are after.
In my experience, many female clients want to have a Jessica Biel like body, but are afraid to lift weights. They think lifting weights is going to make them bulky or thick. But to actually have a “toned” body you have to have muscle there and then decrease the fat around it. That makes a body look “toned”. For most women, yoga is not going to create this type of toned body.
Plus the benefits of lifting weights go far beyond your physique. First of all, it is totally empowering. It also helps strengthen your bones, gives you functional strength for life’s adventures, and has other positive hormonal effects. For example, lifting weights increases your insulin sensitivity and other fat burning hormones that ultimately boosts your metabolism.
As I hung around different yoga studios, I started hearing some of the yogis saying yoga was the only exercise you needed. That it gives you everything – strength, flexibility, core stability, balance and even fat loss. My inner skeptic perked up.
As I dug into the research I found that yoga is so powerful as a restorative practice for the body, that it actually makes your metabolism more efficient (slower). From a fat loss standpoint this is the opposite of what you want. When your metabolism is more efficient you burn less calories throughout the day.
An average 60-minute yoga class burns around 200 calories, which isn’t very time efficient. You could burn 200 calories in 20 minutes jump roping, for comparison. There are much more time efficient and effective methods for shedding fat and shaping your body, such as high intensity interval training, metabolic conditioning, and strength training.
Yoga may have an indirect effect on weight loss if it helps you become more mindful of what you’re eating or if you’re not moving at all, but touting it as a fat loss tool is a hard one for me to swallow.
So you can see the physical practice of yoga was up against a strong wall of resistance in my head. So what did I learn?
Yoga + Weight Lifting = The Perfect Combo
Yogi’s don’t acknowledge weight lifting, body builders don’t acknowledge yogis. Which in my opinion is a damn shame.
Because what I have come to realize is this:
Yoga is the perfect compliment to lifting weights… and of course surfing.
Although they are on two different ends of the spectrum, when practiced together they give you the ultimate in strength, flexibility, and balance. Each enhances the practice of the other.
For example, the muscle that I have built from lifting weights give me the strength to do many of the balancing yoga poses on my arms or legs. These poses take a tremendous amount of strength, that I wouldn’t have without my weight lifting. The flexibility I have gained from yoga has increased my range of motion so I can improve my glute training and also surf better.
Yoga makes lifting weights better.
Lifting weights makes yoga better.
The two are the perfect part and counterpart to each other. The yin to the yang.
Together they become so much more.
So here’s the deal – yoga is not going to get you to look like Jessica Biel, (you need strength training with proper nutrition) but if you want to enhance your mood, feel great, and have the perfect compliment to lifting weights, yoga is it!
And this is why I am head over heels in love with yoga.
Stay tuned for a new exercise series titled: Deadlifts & Downward Dogs. Coming soon!