Is Yoga Really a Workout?

I have to admit, upon entering my first yoga class at the rec center I was very skeptical about how much of an actual ‘workout’ I was going to get.

Everything I had ever read, seen, or learned about yoga seemed to push the idea of yoga as a relaxation technique over any form of ‘real’ workout. All my previous views of the exercise, however, were quickly dashed from my mind about a half hour into my first class. To begin, we entered the darkened, warm room, removed our shoes, and unrolled our sticky mats. After finding spots throughout the room where we could see a mirror (to check our poses) and the instructor, the class started.

Each yoga class starts with deep breathing–to “center yourself”. After a couple minutes of that, there are shoulder stretches, neck and head rolls, and stretching of the back and legs. If you’ve done any exercise class, you know this is a VERY important part of the class…and yoga is no exception.

As we progressed through many different poses, holding each for a maximum of 20 seconds, i actually began to break a sweat! Yet, as opposed to my usual workouts of a half hour on the elliptical or a mile on the track, I wasn’t stressing, I wasn’t getting angry about my pace, but I was getting a workout, and I was actually relaxed and peaceful!

I don’t know if it was the darkened environment, the soothing music, or the strenghthening poses we were rotating through, but I could feel my muscles working, as if I just had an aerobics class.

Fast forward several weeks–I kept going to yoga classes about twice a week, and it didn’t take long to notice a big difference in the muscle tone in my body–especially in my back and upper arms. I found it simply amazing that this strongly touted ‘relaxation exercise’ was giving me a ‘real’ workout.

Now, you may be asking ‘What about the Yoga DVD programs?

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