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Is Yoga Exercise?


I keep getting into an argument with a friend about whether yoga is or is not exercise.

I am not saying that there are not benefits to yoga and that it is not worth doing. But is it really exercise.

Yoga makes you “feel” good, and you sweat, and you can get healthier doing it. But does that alone make it exercise?

My friend used to do triathlons and claims that the type of yoga she does is harder training that tri’s. I am a road cyclist, and I do not consider cycling exercise, it is a sport.

I exercise for overall health. Are there any sports that are also exercise? If sports were exercise, why do they all lift weights when they train?

Any scientific facts that I can add to my argument would be appreciated.

Yoga isn’t easy. The first class I took I was sweating. It’s tough holding positions like downward dog.

Anyway, I’d definitely consider it exercise. Just because it doesn’t fit your traditional mold of what “exercise” is doesn’t mean it can’t be classified in such a way.

BTW don’t post stuff like this in here. Put it in the “Get a life” forum.

how is yoga not exercise?

Well, if yoga is not exercise, then what would you say it is? It’s not a sport, so would it just be an activity? Hiking is an activity, but would you say that isn’t exercise too?

And yes, if yoga makes you sweat and you get healthier by doing it, then I would definitely say that it is exercise. I consider it as part of my mobility work.

Wasn’t Ricky Williams doing yoga before football games as his warm-up routine?

[quote]Rusty Barbell wrote:
Wasn’t Ricky Williams doing yoga before football games as his warm-up routine?[/quote]

Ricky Williams was teaching yoga at one point.

there are some hardcore forms of yoga out there. Power Yoga i think they call it.

its lots of head stands/hand stands kinda moves.

It gets my heart rate up when I watch hot women in spandex bend over in front of me.

That said, it is hard, but in the spirit of what this site is about - it ain’t gonna make you big.

"1. Yoga Mostly Sucks

I can only imagine how much hate mail I’m going to receive after saying what I’m about to say, but it has to be said. Ready?

Yoga stinks.

Well, it doesn’t stink entirely; it just mainly stinks. Guess I just blew my shot at ever dating a yoga instructor.

Women are fascinated with yoga. Given the claims the majority of yoga “gurus” tout, it’s no wonder all these women are under the assumption that yoga will do everything from help them lose weight and get stronger to bringing sexy back.

The fact is, when it comes to general fitness and body compositional goals, most females want and/or need the following:

Decreased body fat

Increased strength

Improved daily/athletic function

Increased bone density

Increased flexibility

Lets break these down one by one and compare yoga to resistance training:

  1. Decreased Body Fat

In order to decrease body fat, you have to provide some sort of caloric deficit either through dieting or through increased caloric expenditure from physical activity (or some form of both). I’m going to leave the dieting component alone for now (I think women tend to drastically under-eat as it is), but I do want to elaborate on the latter component.

Yoga doesn’t cause a high (or acute) or post-exercise calorie expenditure, which is one of the main factors in fat loss. Many people equate sweating to burning a lot of calories. Sorry ladies, but just because you sweat a lot while taking a class in a 105 degree room doesn’t mean you’re burning a lot of calories. You wouldn’t say you’re burning that many calories sun bathing on the beach would you?

How many calories do you think you can burn standing or sitting in one spot for an hour, which is essentially what you do in a typical yoga class? Numerous studies have shown that resistance training elevates EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) for upwards of 24 to 48 hours after you’re done training.

Simply put, not only will you burn more calories during one hour of resistance training compared to one hour of yoga, but you’ll also burn more calories even when you’re not in the gym. More calories burned equals more body fat lost. I’ve yet to see one study which shows yoga does anything to increase EPOC significantly (if at all).

Additionally, yoga doesn’t provide resistance sufficient enough to increase or preserve lean body mass (LBM), which is directly correlated with metabolism and thus the rate at which you burn calories.

Yes, beginners might see transient increases in LBM in the beginning, but that’s mainly because most women who go from doing nothing to participating in yoga classes are so de-conditioned that their body weight elicits enough of a stimulus to cause a slight change.

  1. Increased Strength

As Vladimir Zatsiorsky states in his book, Science and Practice of Strength Training, muscular strength is defined as “the ability to overcome or counteract external resistance by muscular effort; also, the ability to generate maximum external force.” (1) In order to generate maximum force (get stronger), a trainee needs to incorporate one of three methods:

  1. Maximum Effort Method: Lifting a maximum load (exercising against maximum resistance).

  2. Repeated Effort Method: Lifting non-maximal load to failure (albeit still taking into consideration the rule of progressive overload. Relying on one’s body weight will only take you so far).

  3. Dynamic Effort Method: Lifting a non-maximal load with the highest attainable speed.

The fact is, yoga isn’t easily “modifiable” to facilitate constant adaptation for strength gains, unless of course your girlfriend wants to gain weight (highly unlikely). Yoga will in fact develop strength to a point, but soon thereafter you’re just training strength endurance. If bodyweight is constant, then progressive resistance isn’t possible without adding an external load.

  1. Increased Bone Density

This is especially important for women because they’re at higher risk of developing osteoporosis compared to men (especially if they’re Caucasian, Asian, or slight of build).

In terms of stimulating new bone formation, what’s needed is something called a minimal essential strain (MES), which refers to a threshold stimulus that initiates new bone formation.

“A force that reaches or exceeds this threshold and is repeated often enough will signal osteoblasts to migrate to that region of the bone and lay down matrix proteins (collagen) to increase the strength of the bone in that area.” (2)

Furthermore, physical activities that generate forces exceeding the MES are those activities that represent an increase in intensity relative to normal daily activities. For sedentary or elderly individuals, this might be where yoga could be enough of a stimulus to cause an MES and new bone formation (bodyweight exceeds the threshold).

However, you still have to take into consideration the rule of progressive overload (bodyweight will only take them so far) and for younger or more active people, higher intensity activities such as sprinting, jumping, and heavy resistance training will need to be included to exceed MES.

Regardless of one’s training history or lifestyle, it’s clear that the activities chosen to increase bone density need to be progressive and weight bearing in nature. Yoga doesn’t do this.

  1. Improved Daily/Athletic Function

During a yoga class, you’re sitting and/or standing in one spot for 45 to 60 minutes. This will not equate to better efficiency or performance in daily life or on the athletic field. As an athlete your time is better spent elsewhere.

  1. Increased Flexibility

This one I’ll concede to yoga. It does help to improve flexibility, which is a good thing (sort of). Unfortunately, it tends to promote flexibility/mobility in areas of the body where it doesn’t need it!

I’ve worked with many clients with extended histories of lower back pain who start participating in yoga classes through the recommendation of a friend or worse yet, an uninformed physician. Their rationale: “All you need to do is stretch out your back.” Quite possibly the worst piece of advice to give.

As you can see from above, the lumbar spine (lower back) generally needs to be trained with stability in mind. Many of the poses in yoga promote hyperextension of the lumbar spine, which is the last thing it needs.

Most back issues are extension-based, which just means that an individual is getting more ROM (range of motion) at the lumbar spine due to lack of ROM at the hips. Essentially with yoga, you’re promoting more ROM (and thus instability) in a place where it needs less ROM (more stability).

Furthermore, what good is it to have all this extra mobility or ROM if you can’t stabilize in that range of motion in the first place? Having excessive ROM (in the wrong places) without the strength to stabilize that ROM actually predisposes people to injury.

So while yoga does enhance flexibility and mobility, resistance training actually facilitates movement through that range of motion, and provides the dynamic control to allow you to utilize the range of motion safely.

Commence the Hate Mail

I realize that what I wrote above is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way, but like I stated in the beginning, it had to be said. While yoga is an excellent modality to help improve the mind-body connection, and it certainly is a valuable tool in the “overall fitness toolbox,” it doesn’t hold a flame to resistance training as far as what the majority of women want/need from their time in the gym.

A good rule of thumb most women should follow would be to train three times per week while incorporating a healthy dose of soft tissue work and dynamic flexibility. Once all of that is met, then she can incorporate yoga into the mix."

-Tony Gentilcore

Just some food for thought.

-dizzle

Thanks Dizz.

I guess what I take from that is yes it’s good, but only as part of a balanced mea-- ah system.

The answer to this queston depends on your definition of exercise. You’re invoking it as a term here so you need a definition.

All I know is the few I went too were hard-and fun/relaxing-, and full of mostly very hot women who if getting those results from yoga were doing something right.

strawberry banana yoga is my fav

I wouldn’t call it exercise anymore than I would say dynamic flexibility is exercise, however it is a useful tool that I find myself neglecting. Funny that many of the moves in magnificent mobility are also found in yoga.

[quote]A-Dizz wrote:

  1. Decreased Body Fat

Yoga doesn’t cause a high (or acute) or post-exercise calorie expenditure, which is one of the main factors in fat loss. Many people equate sweating to burning a lot of calories. Sorry ladies, but just because you sweat a lot while taking a class in a 105 degree room doesn’t mean you’re burning a lot of calories. You wouldn’t say you’re burning that many calories sun bathing on the beach would you?

How many calories do you think you can burn standing or sitting in one spot for an hour, which is essentially what you do in a typical yoga class? Numerous studies have shown that resistance training elevates EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) for upwards of 24 to 48 hours after you’re done training.
[/quote]

Anyone who thinks yoga is standing or sitting around has obviously never done it. I don’t believe the benefits of yoga are focused on fat loss, but 45 minutes of power yoga (in which you move from position to position every 15 seconds or so) will leave you huffing and puffing.

I can’t argue that it will increase anything other than strength endurance. Depending on your goals, is strength endurance a bad thing?

There also may be something to be said about myofascial expansion. It seems that in order for muscles to grow, the fascia must allow them to expand.

I don’t believe yoga makes any claims to increase bone density. I believe yoga should be used in addition to weightlifting, not instead of.

Again, this sounds like it is coming from someone who has never done yoga. There are very few poses where one is sitting or standing. This is kind of disappointing if it is a quote from Tony Gentilcore. I realize it is tongue in cheek (maybe), but for me it chips away at his credibility.

This is kind of fluky timing, but I am deloading this week, so two days ago I did some yoga. It will really make you see areas in which you are deficient. I seem to be subject to frequent cramping in my back because I don’t stretch enough, and that stint of yoga made me realize just how tight I am. It also showed me that my balance is off, despite all the different types of training I do.

I agree that you can have too much range of motion. Not many weightlifters have this problem. Again yoga is a tool dependent on your goals. If you just want to be as big as possible it may not be for you. If you want to also be able to wipe your own ass, don’t hate on it.

[quote]Commence the Hate Mail

I realize that what I wrote above is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way, but like I stated in the beginning, it had to be said. While yoga is an excellent modality to help improve the mind-body connection, and it certainly is a valuable tool in the “overall fitness toolbox,” it doesn’t hold a flame to resistance training as far as what the majority of women want/need from their time in the gym.

A good rule of thumb most women should follow would be to train three times per week while incorporating a healthy dose of soft tissue work and dynamic flexibility. Once all of that is met, then she can incorporate yoga into the mix."

-Tony Gentilcore

Just some food for thought.

-dizzle [/quote]

After all that, he agrees it doesn’t suck, it is just a tool. Like I stated above, many dynamic flexibility are taken from yoga.

All yoga is not created equal. Most of the yoga classes around here are like stretching sessions, the only way you will break a sweat is if they turn the AC off. Real yoga can kick your ass even if you are in damn good shape.

I think yoga is a worthwhile pursuit for someone trying to get into a healthier lifestyle that has never exercised before, but most of the claims people make about yoga are ludicrous, like it “builds and tones muscle”, will make you live longer, and cures cancer.

[quote]analog_kid wrote:
… but most of the claims people make about yoga are ludicrous, like it “builds and tones muscle”, will make you live longer, and cures cancer.[/quote]

Let’s not forget hepatitis, AIDs and cooties.

[quote]analog_kid wrote:
… but most of the claims people make about yoga are ludicrous, like it “builds and tones muscle”, will make you live longer, and cures cancer.[/quote]

The popular type of power yoga that is taught in gym group classes is much different than the yoga that is practiced at specialized yoga centers, like Bikram, Hatha, Ashtanga, Jivamukti, Kundalini and a bunch of others that I can’t pronounce or spell. This type of yoga is really a lifestyle, not an exercise. But the people who seem to like it remind me of brainwashed, hippie cult members, who are thin as twigs, and don’t look very healthy to me.

Besides, I’m afraid I’ll get sucked in to drinking the Kool Ade, so I just say “No” to any type of yoga.

I say I �??Practice Yoga�?? To me it is no Religion; it is a series of poses designed to teach you to relax as you put your body under stress. . It has helped me with Flexibility, Mobility and teaches me how to remain calm in stressful situations

[quote]Yo Momma wrote:
analog_kid wrote:
… but most of the claims people make about yoga are ludicrous, like it “builds and tones muscle”, will make you live longer, and cures cancer.

The popular type of power yoga that is taught in gym group classes is much different than the yoga that is practiced at specialized yoga centers, like Bikram, Hatha, Ashtanga, Jivamukti, Kundalini and a bunch of others that I can’t pronounce or spell. This type of yoga is really a lifestyle, not an exercise. But the people who seem to like it remind me of brainwashed, hippie cult members, who are thin as twigs, and don’t look very healthy to me.

Besides, I’m afraid I’ll get sucked in to drinking the Kool Ade, so I just say “No” to any type of yoga.

[/quote]

I know the type. I run into these folks when I’m checking out books on meditation at Border’s. “Yogi” as they like to call themselves are like a flexible, tea drinking hippie-hybrids.

Yoga is exercise.

Doing 35lb Dumbbell RDLs, Foam Rolling, and then Static Stretching is also exercise.

Mowing the lawn is exercise.

Walking the dog is exercise.

Sex is exercise.

Anything that gets your blood moving and increases your GPP or is a method of active recovery is exercise.

So Yoga might suck. So does Badmitton. But it’s still exercise.