Why Can't We Be Friends? Yoga and Weight Training­ - How I Found the Balance and Benefits of Both

More people than ever are hitting the yoga mat now than ever before. Yoga provides so many valuable tools that can be transferred into our everyday life like improving range of motion at the joints, body awareness, and focus.

When I think back to when I first started yoga I realize how much I was closed off to it. I only began because in college I worked with Dr. Ellen Robinson, USA Olympic Weightlifting coach, on Powerlifting and Olympic Weightlift techniques. After having chronic tightness in my back and pretty much all over, she recommended yoga. She stated that it would help me to get more out of my strength training regiment. 

Yoga? But i’m here for strength training... 

Off I went to my first class at Power Yoga of Cape Cod with Andrea Odrzywolski and Eric Clark. It was an eye-opening experience. I fumbled my way through the class while watching everyone around me the whole time.

I remember she would constantly tell us to breathe and I was so resistant thinking “stop telling me to breathe already.” I loved the assists with the essential oils and the nice little readings, and best of all my mind would finally shut off. I kept coming back despite how inflexible I was. I loved the new challenge and had finally found a way out of my incessant chattering mind. I woke up the next day sore and thought “Wow what a great workout.” 

Although I was very wary of it, I took Dr. Robinson’s recommendations and added yoga in once a week as an active recovery workout. The more I did it, the more I realized I needed it.

After a few months, I noticed amazing results. I no longer had trouble getting low in squats or engaging different muscles in my body. It gave me this amazing sense of body awareness that is indescribable. It also opened my mind to a whole new realm of possibilities I never knew existed. I was beginning to realize that yoga was not just something I could practice on my mat but it was a way of living that I began to take with me everywhere. 

If you are wondering if yoga is something you should add into your routine here are some of the benefits... 

Yoga Benefits: 

  1. Body awareness­ - Learning to a ctivate/inhibit muscles that are underused or overused
  2. Muscular endurance through isometric holds -­ involves constant tension in the muscle with no joint movement or change in muscle length
  3. Mindfulness -­ being present in the moment
  4. Breath awareness - Learn to properly use your diaphragm during every day life and enhance your workouts
  5. Mental and emotional benefits­ - Do you have trouble handling stressful situations?
  6. Accelerated recovery
  7. Joint Stability
  8. Initiate parasympathetic nervous system = Relaxation :)

Of course, in life there is no one size fits all cure. Yoga does develop strength to a point, but is primarily muscular endurance. To develop muscular strength there needs to be progressive resistance training and this is only possible through adding weight.

Muscular strength is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to exert a maximal external force. Local muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or a muscle group to repeatedly exert a submaximal resistance. 

Here are some benefits of following a strength training program. 

  1. Prevent Osteoporosis ­- Osteopenia, which is the onset of osteoporosis, can begin to develop in our late 20’s and early 30’s. The only prevention ­ strengthen the bone through resistance training. 
  2. Improves Daily Living
  3. Increased muscle mass = a faster metabolism = burning more calories at rest!
  4. Better body mechanics - balance, coordination, and posture will improve
  5. Stability ­- strength training has been shown to reduce the risk of falling by 40%
  6. Prevents diseases such as arthritis
  7. Elevate endorphins (natural opiates produced by your brain) making you feel great 

Yoga has been life-changing for me and I use to wait all day for those few moments in savasana where I could quiet my mind and just be present. I was hooked on what I thought was yoga, but I can now see and understand that the physical practice was a tool to guide me back to my spirit and my connection to God.

Strength training is also a tool to give you the feeling that you are capable of anything. Watching yourself progress and do things you never thought possible is motivation to keep going in your workouts but also in life. It gives you the confidence to take life’s challenges head on. It is so important to keep balance in life. To be the healthiest version of yourself I recommend doing both strength training and yoga for a healthy, happy, and balanced lifestyle. 

Yours in health,