I recently taught a yoga class for a group of strong women. I say that as I know they all regularly work out at the gym. They use weight bearing machines and they are committed to remaining strong and active particularly as they get older.

We warmed up our joints and spine before beginning a few rounds of Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutations). We practiced standing poses to strengthen our legs, balance poses to improve focus and concentration required for balancing. We laid on the mat for some backward bending, to strengthen our spine and abdominals.

We finished with some spinal twists and forward folds, to counterbalance the backward bending and to gently retreat inwards, observing our inner selves without the distraction of the mind.

After the class, the ladies remarked how challenging they found some of the poses. Some were surprised by this given they regularly work out with weights.

It’s amazing how many students I meet who think yoga is a bit of a sissy work out; guys thinking it’s a girl thing and girls thinking their time is better spent at the gym in order to build strength and lose weight.

Don’t get me wrong; I think gyms have their place in helping everyone get fitter and healthier but I think a yoga practice is a fantastic way to compliment working out.

What yoga can bring to your gym workout

1.  Stretching  your muscles makes them lengthen helping you appear leaner

2.  Flushing lactic acid from your muscles by both holding and twisting in certain poses

3.  Increasing your joint mobility and range of motion which will prevent injury at the gym

4.  Using your own core strength as resistance rather than external weights or machines

5.  Toning your large and small muscles at once rather than targeting one muscle group at a time

6.  Conditioning your body for what is does daily – walking, sitting, bending, twisting and lifting

Yoga can give you what a gym doesn’t

Yoga brings you stillness and calm. With its bright lights, thudding weights as they are dropped, pounding of feet on the treadmill competing over the loud music, it’s almost a sensory overload. It’s certainly not conducive to relaxing your body, emptying your mind of you thoughts and creating stillness within.

Yoga is like a moving meditation, allowing you to be present in the moment by observing your body in the poses, noticing the sensations you feel and just breathing. There’s hardly a person that doesn’t leave a yoga class feeling relaxed and energised.

Consider adding a yoga practice to your gym workout and give yourself the benefit to your mind as well as your body.