Some people see it as a question…yoga or the gym -- which is better? Is there really a question in there?
There are about a gazillion reasons a yoga class is better. And here are 15 of them:
1. Yoga benefits the mind, body and spirit.
Yoga will help tone your body but while it’s doing that, it also helps you to be truly in the moment and infuses your spirit with positive energy. A gym workout is focused primarily on improving your body’s physical condition.
2. Yoga benefits your full body—externally and internally.
The twisting, stretching and folding of a yoga practice are good for the digestive system, the circulatory system, the lymph system and more. It’s a great way to detox the body and can improve your cardiovascular system. And all this while developing stronger muscles. A gym workout is focused just on strengthening muscles and boosting cardio.
3. Yoga teaches acceptance.
Yoga helps you believe you’re perfect the way you are—with your strengths and your weaknesses. It's true what they say -- yoga is not about self-improvement, it's about self-acceptance. Gym classes, especially boot camp style classes, are more likely to have you feeling like a failure if you can’t do everything.
4. Yoga is about focusing on yourself.
Many yoga studios don’t even have mirrors so you’re forced to think about where your body is and what each muscle and limb is doing, whereas gym classes have mirrors for you to see—and worry about—what everyone else is doing.
5. Yoga will make you lean.
By stretching your muscles as you’re strengthening them, your body will take on a leaner appearance. A gym workout filled with weights will cause your muscles to bulk up.
6. Yoga is more efficient.
Yoga relies on your own—your entire body—for strengthening. Gym classes use weights and other equipment. Through different asanas, your full body becomes toned and stronger by using your own entire body weight as 'weights'. By using only weights or other equipment, muscles are isolated and have to be worked individually in order to benefit, which takes a whole lot more time.
7. You can do yoga anywhere.
Yoga is a different experience in a yoga studio, but you can easily practice yoga at home, outside or in small spaces. All you need is about 6 feet by 4 feet and you have your own yoga studio. A gym workout requires more equipment and more space.
8. Yoga is kinder to the body.
This does not mean yoga is not intense. Just ask anyone who practices Ashtanga. Yoga builds heat and works your muscles, but you’re doing what your body allows you to do and not attempting to lift weights and pound on the joints—both of which can cause injury. Yoga also stretches as you move through the postures and a good yoga practice builds on itself to prepare the body for the next position.
9. Yoga eases your aches and pains.
A gym workout increases them. Yoga slowly stretches muscles and opens the energy channels of the body. The increased flexibility keeps muscles and joints lubricated and healthy. Weights and treadmill can cause strain which leads to soreness and injuries.
10. Yoga helps you breathe easier.
During times of stress, it’s easy to forget to breathe—really breathe, and not just shallow breaths. Without deep breaths, it’s harder to think clearly and fatigue can set in. Yoga focuses on the breath so that when you need it most, those deep breaths are the norm.
11. Yoga is calming.
We move through practice with a calm, relaxed expression. No grunting, no dropping weights, no clenched teeth or grimacing expressions like you see from gym-goers. The overall intention is to release tension throughout the body and mind.
12. Yoga reduces stress.
Many yoga classes include meditation, or at least Savasana. It gives you a chance to clear the mind of the stresses of the day. With practice, stressful situations can be dealt with more easily and overall stress levels decrease. The competitive nature of a gym along with the loud music and bright lights is more likely to increase your stress.
13. Everyone can practice yoga.
No matter your age or your health, you can practice yoga. Yoga has even been found to help people who have health ailments ranging from Parkinson’s to cancer. Gym workouts, in general, are not designed to be therapeutic, or senior-friendly.
14. Yoga improves concentration.
During a yoga practice, you focus on the breath, the posture and the gaze. Outside distractions are tuned out. While you can try and do this at the gym, this focus and silence is not exactly encouraged with all the other distractions around, like loud music, TVs, etc.
15. Yogis rock.
We’re a happy bunch! Wouldn’t you rather be around smiling, happy people? You'll get to be in an environment where people accept your, and everyone else's, curves and edges. There's no talk of who held what pose longer, no sense of competition. It's always good vibes all around!
Are there things you would add to this list? Let us know!