When you think of ways to build muscle in the body, weight lifting and other strength training exercises are the first to come to mind. But does yoga tone the body? As longtime yoga practitioners here at yourBuddhi, we can attest that yes, indeed it does! But how exactly does yoga build muscle mass? We wanted to give you some backup for these claims so that we can add “yoga builds muscle” to its already long list of amazing benefits.
1. Yoga Builds Muscle By Using Your Own Body Weight
Bodyweight training is one of many ingredients necessary for a successful strength training program. Bodyweight exercises are just poses or moves that use your own body weight as resistance. There are tons of yoga poses that use your own body weight to build muscle. Planks, low pushups, handstands and arm balances are just a few of the many different yoga moves that will build muscle. Standing poses are a simple and great way to increase strength in the lower body including the legs, glutes and core. Plank and chaturanga (low push-up) also build strength in the upper body and core.
2. Yoga Creates Functional Muscle
If weight lifting is your go-to for how to build muscle mass, you may be missing out on building a more functional type of strength. Weight lifting has the tendency to isolate and specifically target small groupings of muscles. In yoga, postures are executed in a synergistic fashion, meaning many different muscles have to fire all at once to carry out a transition or pose. For example, the transition from plank to chaturanga requires support and action from several muscles in the shoulders, upper back, core, lower back, glutes and legs. In order to flow from a standing pose into a balancing pose, a symphony of action in the legs, core and spine occurs.
There are many examples of the synergistic quality of muscle action throughout a yoga class. When you’re building strength in several muscle groups at once, you build functional muscle. This type of balanced strength is beneficial not just when it comes to building muscle mass. It improves posture and allows us to do all the other activities we love doing in our daily life.
3. Yoga Develops Strength in the Core and Spine
Arguably the most important type of strength to build is in the trunk of the body. This includes all of the core muscles (which are not just abs) and the spine. There are several old yoga quotes that refer to the importance of back health such as “you’re only as young as your spine is flexible” and “God lives in the spine.” One of the keys to a healthy spine is a balanced, strong core. Even just yogic breathing builds core strength. With each and every exhale, the navel draws in towards the spine to activate the lower abdominal muscles.
When traveling from one pose to the next, the core and back fire a variety of different extrinsic and intrinsic muscle groups to support transitions and the poses themselves. Yoga is guaranteed to build a strong, healthy core and spine which brings a landslide of benefits beyond just building muscle.
Some yoga classes will build more muscle than others. Our Buddhi Flow, vinyasa and Super Yogi classes include a large variety of bodyweight exercises that create all over functional strength. You don’t have to figure out which poses are best in order for yoga to tone the body. Just do yoga classes a few times a week and you’ll have done the work necessary to build muscle mass. If you really want to upgrade your weekly workout routine, add two or three Sign up today and get your first two weeks of online yoga classes free!