Yoga has earned itself an interesting reputation in the fitness world. There's hatha, vinyasa, ashtanga, bikram, iyengar, and so many more types, not to mention the countless non-specific classes seen in the gym, on the beach, in chain studios...It's everywhere, and there's something for everyone. And still, there seems to be a stigma that yeah, yoga feels good, but it's really just glorified stretching right?
In essence, yes and no. A relaxing, restorative yoga practice can certainly be an addendum to a regular routine of strength training and cardio; perhaps the style chosen could be so restful that it would be appropriate for your rest day. However, if you are looking for a way to integrate a yoga practice into your routine so that it takes the place of a strength or cardio day, you're in luck! There's so many options theses days that you can, with a bit of patience and an open mind, find the class for you. Be aware that it could be hiding under the guise of a misleading name, so you may need to do some research. Here's a few common names you're likely to see:
Heated Power Yoga
This happens to be very popular here in the beach communities of San Diego, and attracts both men and women of varying age, size, and ability. The combination of heated rooms (90-110 degrees, depending on the instructor and studio), pumping music, and a vigorous, flowing practice creates a muscle burning, calorie melting sweat.
This, too, is gaining popularity in the gym setting as more traditional exercises are thrown into a yoga practice. Timid newcomers appreciate familiar exercises like push ups, bicycles, lunges, and pikes mixed with the poses for a challenging workout.
There's many names, but the gist of this format combines classic Pilates exercises with core-focused yoga postures for a belly-blazing session.
I recommend getting out there and trying just about everything you have access to, with the knowledge that it may take some trial and error to find the class and the instructor that offers you a yoga practice with the right balance of difficulty, exhilaration, and satisfaction. It's still yoga, after all, so be sure you are attaining the mind~body~spirit connection that will ultimately give you the best return of all.
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