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Is Yoga Enough of a Workout?

And there it is. The question I get asked all the time: IS YOGA ENOUGH: to stay fit, to lose weight, to keep the weight off.

When a person says they do yoga, that’s a pretty broad spectrum statement. There are a million different types of yoga, and I don’t think one is better than another, so long as it benefits the body and the soul. Most gyms in the States have an increasing demand for yoga-fusion classes: cycle-meets-mat, barre-meets-yogini, weights-meets-flow…you get the idea. I’m sure what I’m about to say is an annoying purist statement, but I’mma gonna say it: those hybrids of yoga are not yoga. They’re a workout routine, not true yoga. Yoga is a discipline with strong spiritual roots and those who are faithful yoga practitioners reap crazy health benefits, but true yogis don’t do yoga to get fit. That’s a side benefit, and a great one.

BUT let’s face it, most people find their way to the mat because they want to get lean and limber. Nothing wrong with that. Fitness might bring us to our mat, and then we end up staying for the internal benefits. Even so, many health driven, dedicated yoga practitioners will end up asking the question:

So is yoga enough of a workout routine? My answer is yes…and no.

First things first: regardless of our workout plans, our food choices can massively annihilate any progress we make towards weight loss or weight maintenance. I don’t believe in crash diets or detoxes, because: STRESS. I mean, really, ain’t nobody got time for that. Intelligent. thoughtful food choices lead to maximum health.

Once we’ve gotten our food choices in balance, we can evaluate our workout routines better. Any movement is good for the body. Nothing can replace HIIT or cardio though. And while yoga styles like Rocket and Ashtanga burn a fair amount of calories and give you an intense workout, most people (particularly women, whomp-whomp) need a little something outside of yoga to blast away the extra fat.

What looks fit to me might not be your definition, so that’s something to consider when setting your goals. Yoga might be enough for you, but age, body type, and metabolism should also be driving factors in your workout routine.

Notice I say “body type” as in: the type of body you have and how it uniquely processes food and exercise, not a picture of someone else’s body via a magazine or IG profile etc etc etc.

One of the best things we can do when creating our workout routine is to not compare our bodies to another’s. No two bodies are created equal or identical, and yet we’re all uniquely lovely in our own ways. I have clients tell me they want “a yoga body.” What the hell is a yoga body? I know, I know…it’s supposed to be that lovely, luxuriously lean body we all dream about, but frankly I know like zero real life yoginis that have that build. Well, wait, I know two, and they’re both gorgeous gay men with bods to die for, but you get my point. Kino MacGregor is one of the most famous yoginis out there. She’s crazy strong and very muscular, but she doesn’t have a “dainty” build. Rachel Brathen (Yoga Girl) is gorgeous, but she’s not a microscopic stick. One of my dear friends is super curvy and full-figured. She’s stunning, strong, and even more limber than the average IG yoga model. So let’s be kind to each other’s bodies and neither compare nor criticize. Let’s be kind to our own body and follow the same rule.

A good place to start in your fitness routine is to figure out  your body type and build your regimen from there. There are three body types, and we get dealt our cards in utero as a baby. It’s crazy fascinating, but also depressing, since we get what we get and that’s life. THANKS, PHYSIOLOGY! Fight it or embrace it, nature is a beautiful thing.

The three body types are: Ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph.

(See link below to determine your body type)

  • Ectomorph: if you are naturally a waif and have trouble putting on muscle and gaining weight, you can get away with less cardio. The average yoga class will probably not be enough to build muscle or give you that really “toned” look some people prefer, and it will be difficult for you to build strength without drills and weights off the mat. The good news is your body will naturally love yoga and you’ll probably be one the more flexible than strong side. The bad news is it might take you longer to nail strength poses like arm balances and inversion, so add a solid weight class into your routine your life and do enough cardio to stay heart healthy. If you don’t care about looking super toned, yoga alone is just fine.
  • Mesomorph: naturally athletic, you tone up easily. You get strong and stay strong, but you have to work at flexibility. You don’t need yoga for weight-loss—you need it to keep your muscles from getting too tight. Yoga will lengthen out your limbs and give you an overall leaner look. BUT you must, must, must balance your life with cardio if you find you struggle to lose weight. Sorry kids. Yoga alone won’t cut it.
  • Endomorph: you’ve got curves! Maybe a some extra pounds too. It’s a challenge to lose weight and keep it off. BOOO. Yoga will nourish your body and help build strength, but you need to add weights and you need to make sure you’re burning fat by doing a mix of HIIT and cardio. Your main “workout” should be cardio.

Remember, age and diet factor in as well. I eat really clean throughout the week…but I just can’t say no to bottomless mimosas or a good margarita. I also find I need more cardio to keep my weight in check as I get older. So, I find things I love doing: kickboxing classes, pound rockout, or intense circuit training.  I walk or bike everywhere in the city, and go hiking and skiing/boarding depending on the season. Point being: I have to stay active, but I can have a blast doing it.

Design your workout routine around your body and your goals, not someone else’s Instagram–especially a fitness model. I’m looking at you, darlin’! WALK AWAY NOW!

You can do the exact workout, eat the exact same food, drink the exact smoothie as your favorite celebrity. It won’t make you look like that person. Your #fitnessgoals should be YOU centered, and I hope they are. Look, you’re fabulous. Your body is divine, even if it’s not perfect. As humans, we usually crave what we can’t have and forget to embrace what we do have.

Our bodies are gifts, no matter how much shade we throw at ourselves (my best friend just informed me I am far too uncool to use words like shade, bae, or anything Beyonce would say. Whatevah whatevah, I will what I want) Our bodies let us do amazing things, take us on incredible journey, and house our souls. NO TWO BODIES ARE EXACTLY ALIKE. Let your body be the best body it can be, and adjust your workout routine to fitness the unique needs your body has.

Wanna find out your body type? Of course you do! Here’s some link love:

Body type test:

Tracy Anderson’s Body Type Workout Suggestions:

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