ISo you do Yoga on a regular basis. Guess what? That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re fit nor does it make you healthy! Whilst yoga is great for increasing flexibility, building strength and tone, cultivating tranquility, calming the fluctuations of the mind and making you AWESOME it’s not the silver bullet of wellbeing, good health, and fitness – on its own. But even at its very best, yoga is not everything our bodies need. The way we currently practice yoga has limitations.
We either need to adapt to the ancient practice of yoga to suit modern life or we need to supplement yoga with other activities. Even though a great yoga class leaves me feeling fabulous, I always hold the question in my mind, “what is this doing for my body exactly and what do I need to balance out what I just did?” I want to understand yoga’s various benefits more deeply without accepting the benefits of yoga as a doctrine.
You need to add aerobic activity to the mix. When it comes to exercise there are three classifications:
Moderate intensity aerobic activity – this will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer.
Vigorous intensity aerobic activity – this means you’re breathing hard and fast, your heart rate is significantly raised and you won’t be able to speak comfortably.
Muscle strengthening activity – this involves repetitions and sets that strengthen muscles such as lifting weights and yoga.
The smartest minds in the world at the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend that for adults in order to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone health, reduce the risk of NCDs (Autoimmune diseases, heart disease, stroke, many cancers, asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, etc.) and depression that we do one of the following:
- At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week and muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days.
- 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week.
- An equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous intensity aerobic activity every week and muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week.
The physical practice of Yoga or Asana strengthens the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms so it falls under the classification of muscle-strengthening activities. You also get the added mental benefits that yoga provides so it’s the best choice here!
Yoga on its own is not enough. Some find running and swimming (But hey you can cycle, play tennis, do Zumba, play a team sport – whatever floats your boat! ) to be the perfect complement to yoga as both of these pursuits elevate the heart rate, whilst strengthening and toning the body.
A holistic and balanced approach to your fitness routine is essential to add some aerobic activity to your Yoga routine and then you’ll be best positioned for optimal wellbeing, good health, and fitness.