Yoga seems to be the buzz word of late. It’s more like a fashion statement to say “I do Yoga”. Most who do it regularly, swear by it and will not replace their yoga routine for any other.

If your yoga class is as simple as a warm up, a few mobility exercises and asanas, and ends with shavasana, then this will never promote weight loss. It is, however, a good workout for senior citizens and people recovering from illness.

If you are looking for weight loss and an improved quality of life, then it’s a different ball game. To understand this you need to know the important components of exercise. The components that offer you overall changes are cardio, strength, flexibility and skills. These segments improve your quality of life by increasing productivity and decreasing the chance of injury.

Skills like neuro muscular integrity, balance, co-ordination, perception, speed, power, agility, endurance, stamina, reaction time and flexibility are the foundation elements of our everyday life. This is something that we lose as we age and therefore we need to work on these elements every day. Aerobics, Zumba, dance, athletics, kickboxing and high intensity interval training for example are based on skills. Does your yoga class work on these above mentioned skills?

Yoga is great for flexibility. As the asanas are usually held for 2 to 3 minutes or more, the muscles and joints engage and stretch in their full range of motion (ROM), which promotes an increased supply of oxygen that carries nutrients around the body, nourishing the working muscles and joints.

Cardio-respiratory exercise involves the heart and the lungs; it primarily burns calories and strengthens the heart and lungs. Undertaking 2 to 3 cardio sessions of twenty minutes duration each week is good for the heart. But if you are looking for weight loss and improved endurance then 40 to 60 minutes of sustained cardio exercise almost every day is recommended. So if your yoga regime consists of an uninterrupted cardio segment then you are sticking to the basic rules. You can also incorporate a cardio- strength combo of anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes. If you aren’t adding in strength work and your session is just pure yoga-cardio, than the session must be long enough for you to see the results. The question to ask yourself here is “Does your Yoga session raise your heart rate for a sustainable period of time?”

The most beneficial and often neglected component of exercise is strength training. It not only builds muscle mass and bone density, but also tones and sculpts the body, boosts metabolism and prevents injury. Muscles act as cushions and absorb shock, preventing age related muscular loss that is crucial as it will prevent sluggish metabolism in later years. For general muscular strength and toning, spending 20 minutes targeting all the major muscle groups twice a week is recommended. Try to incorporate elements like variation, progression, repetition, and intensity.

Repetitive movements or exercise, when done on a daily basis can lead to overuse injuries (such as Repetitive Strain Injury). It can wear and tear the joints involved as well as the muscles. Furthermore you will find that there you can’t see changes in your body, as your workouts have become predictable. Challenging and varying your workout will offer huge benefits for your body. So ask yourself does your yoga class offer variations to your strength training segment? You can always try different types of yoga or different instructors to keep it fresh and continue to challenge your body.

If your yoga session has all of the above then go for it. Never allow your body to reach an exercise plateau. Remember “variation” is big player in weight loss and fitness. I personally would advise young, healthy and fit people to vary their workouts on a daily or weekly basis. Try and include a range of sports like cycling, swimming, group classes (like RPM, TRX, HIIT), trekking, jogging, and a host of other things to surprise your body. This will help you become leaner, stronger, fitter, sleeker and powerful.

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