If you live in Cape Town, you’ll have encountered a slightly grubby, dreadlocked yogi, who, while munching on a carrot, lectures you on how yoga changed his or her life and made them fitter, improved their sex life and got them a promotion.
Although you nod in response, you can’t help but be quizzical: how the heck does saluting the sun tone your body?
Yes it can
Yoga postures, known as ‘asanas’, work the body in a similar way to bodyweight exercises like standard pushups or situps. Going through a range of motion and supporting the weight of your body at the same time – or engaging muscles for balance and support in holding poses – makes your body stronger.
“Meh” we hear you say
Contrary to the popular notion that you have to lift heavy and smash HITT sessions to see physical results, a 2005 study found that eight weeks of Hatha yoga significantly increased participants’ fitness, tested by the number of push-ups and sit-ups they could do. Over time, this muscle strength becomes visible in the form of firm, scuplted bodies.
But, there are limitations
Yes, yoga does help tone the body and maintain strength. However, if you’re looking to pack on muscle mass, you should probably lift, bro. This is because yoga only uses body weight, which isn’t enough to build muscle. Also, most yoga workouts aren’t fast enough to greatly improve cardiovascular fitness.
How to get more tone for your Tadasana
If you’re considering using yoga as your main form of exercise, choose a class that’s tough yet doable, (no injuries please!). Over time, you’ll feel yourself get stronger and more flexible, in which case you can move through poses more quickly, hold them for longer and add variations to challenge yourself.
You can also mix it up with different styles of yoga to move your muscles in new and different ways, which increases muscle tone.