IS YOGA ENOUGH…?
“He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.” - Lao Tzu
(This week's newsletter was authored by teacher extraordinaire and full time writer Elinor Cohen. Check out her Instagram HERE and her amazingly empowering advanced & intermediate sessions on our on-demand archives.)
Finding yoga often feels like a whole world has opened up. There’s a connection to body, mind, and breath that’s unlike any other form of movement. Spend a little more time on your mat and you’ll likely see just how physical the asana practice can be. That leads many people to question whether yoga is enough exercise or if they need other “workouts.” As with so many questions, it depends.
First things first, yoga isn’t just a “workout” in the physical sense. It’s active, that’s for sure, but the workout you get isn’t just going to be for your body; it’s also going to be for your mind. With that said, if the physical benefits are something you’re after, you’re in good company. Many people seek out yoga for this very purpose.
Yoga offers a lot of physical benefits; certain types like Ashtanga and Vinyasa are very bodyweight focused and can help you get stronger. After all, think about it: chaturanga is essentially a low push-up. Hopping forward in a Sun Salutation mimics a reverse burpee. Then there are all the arm balances, which require a ton of upper body strength, and the inversions, which, when done correctly, can set your core on fire. And we didn’t even talk about navasana (boat pose)!
There are so many athletic components of the asana practice. What “depends” when answering the aforementioned question is the type of yoga you practice. A vigorous vinyasa flow can be great for getting your heart rate up and giving you your daily dose of cardio. In that case, yes yoga may be “enough.” On the other hand, taking a gentle Hatha class with very little balancing and mostly seated postures may not give you the athleticism you’re after. These two examples are both extreme and most yoga exists in between the two of them. Many classes have parts that are a little challenging as well as parts that are very relaxing. The stretching and lengthening you get from these classes are valuable in their own right.
The key is to find the class that aligns with your goals. If you’re looking to get into an arm balance or master a challenging pose, yoga may not be enough. By that, we don’t mean strenuous enough. Rather, you may need to supplement your practice with other strength training to get you there. If building muscle and increasing strength is your goal, taking open level or level 1 classes might not cut it. If the goal is to move and breathe, then you probably don’t “need” more.
Remember, what’s enough for one person isn’t the same as what’s enough for another. That even exists within a single class or a style of yoga. One chaturanga may be enough for one student; another may require 5 to get the same feeling. What’s most important is to not judge it and to remember that YOU are enough. Yoga just supports the journey you’re already on.
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