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Muscle Fitness Can Yoga Make You Stronger?
By: Della Menechella

Many people wonder if yoga can improve their muscle fitness. They recognize that yoga can help reduce stress and increase flexibility, but when it comes to increasing muscle fitness, they think it might be a little too 'weak' to do the job. The fact is that yoga can definitely make you stronger.

A study was conducted at the University of California at Davis. Ten college 'coach potatoes' adopted a yoga routine for eight weeks. Each week, they attended from two to four classes during which they spent 10 minutes on breath control, 15 minutes of warm up exercises, 50 minutes doing yoga asanas, and then 10 minutes of relaxation/mediation. At the end of the eight-week period, the researchers measured the students' fitness and discovered that their muscular strength had increased by up to 31%, their muscular endurance improved by 57%, their flexibility increased by 188%, and their cardio respiratory fitness improved by 7%. These results are pretty amazing when you consider that the study was only conducted for eight weeks.

How can something that seems so benign have such a major impact on muscle fitness?

Muscle Strength Unlike traditional weight building exercises, in yoga your body provides the resistance. While you are not likely going to produce the bulked up muscles of some weight lifters, you will certainly increase your muscle strength.

Many poses in yoga are done very slowly or you stay in the posture for several breaths. It is much more challenging to your muscles to hold a pose or do it slowly than it is to allow momentum to move you through an action. I have been working out with weights for many years so my muscles are used to being strengthened. Yet, I have practiced certain yoga routines during which my muscles screamed for mercy and I actually had to get out of the pose and then resume it because my muscles were so challenged. I don't often experience this during weight training sessions.

In addition, some balance postures such as Tree Pose and Shoulderstand require enormous muscle control in order to prevent you from falling over. This helps to build and strengthen your muscles.

Muscle Balance In weight training, you isolate a specific muscle as you perform an exercise and this leads to a short, tightened muscle. The muscles you develop during yoga are more likely to be elongated, because while you are strengthening them, you are simultaneously lengthening them. You also do not focus on an isolated muscle, but actively recruit the smaller muscle groups as well. You truly work your entire body when you practice yoga.

Practicing yoga can help realign your muscles, so they are more balanced. Since you are not overworking any specific muscle group, you are less likely to get injured.

In addition to all its other benefits, yoga can help you improve muscle fitness. Whether you choose to use it as your primary means of strength training or you want it to supplement your other exercises, yoga can help your muscles grow fit, balanced, and strong.

About the Author

Della Menechella is a yoga and fitness enthusiast who has been involved in fitness for over thirty years. Here website http://www.beauty-fitness-yoga-source.com/ is filled with practical information about how you can make yoga and fitness a positive part of your life.


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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape

 

Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.


Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic
shocks.

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically
speaking.

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over
time.

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:
http://tinyurl.com/6c6kq
 

Dave Snape

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