The trick is to incorporate light weights — 1-5 lbs. work well — into your yoga routine, along with some simple weight training movements. While performing a set of bicep curls and holding a warrior III position simultaneously may seem tough — spoiler alert: it is — the benefits reaped from the compound movement far exceed those you get from performing each one in isolation. We share five of those benefits below:
1. BOOSTS CALORIE BURN
Adding resistance to your yoga routine through the incorporation of light weights forces muscles that may have otherwise remained static to work through short bursts of energy. These bursts of energy, which alternate with short periods of rest, lead to increased expenditure of anaerobic energy and a subsequent jump in calorie burn.
2. IMPROVES BALANCE
Balance is a major component of yoga with or without weights, but adding dumbbells adds some extra difficulty to holding and maintaining different positions. As you work to hold various positions and resist wobbling while performing movements with your weights, you learn which muscles to contract in order to maintain your balance. Through repetition, you ultimately become more aware and in control of your movements and muscles as a result.
3. BUILDS AND TONES MUSCLE
Adding weights to your yoga routine maximizes muscle building and toning during your workout, especially when it comes to your arms. While it generally doesn’t take added weight for yoga to strengthen your legs and core, arms are not always targeted as effectively. Adding light weights to the routine better engages the arms, encourages the building of lean muscle through controlled movements, and provides a more complete total body workout.
4. ENCOURAGES PROPER BREATHING
One of the most critical components of yoga is the regulation of breathing. Similarly, it’s important to maintain a proper pattern of breathing when engaging in any strength training routine. When you combine the two, it becomes especially important to remain aware of your breathing because you’re putting a greater demand on your body. Performing yoga with weights encourages you to remain in tune with your body through managing your breathing and using the proper breathing techniques.
5. IMPROVES CONCENTRATION
A central focus on breathing and meditative exercises in yoga lends itself to heightened concentration because it relaxes the mind. Bringing weights into the the mix only adds to the effect, as increased levels of muscle contractions stimulate blood flow not only to the muscles themselves, but to the brain, as well. This in turn boosts brain function, including the ability to focus.
About Tamara Rahoumi
Tamara Rahoumi is a graduate of Rutgers University currently pursuing a master’s degree in magazine journalism at NYU. Her passion for wellness always has her researching the latest fitness trends, experimenting with recipes from superfood cookbooks, and working towards an overall healthier and happier lifestyle. Follow her adventures on her lifestyle blog, The Curly Nomad.