Is Yoga About Fitness?
Yes, I believe that yoga is about fitness. While taking my on-line business class, I had to determine what my niche is for Tranquility Yoga Studio in Owasso. After much thought, I came to the decision that my niche is "fitness." You might ask, "How could fitness and tranquility be combined? They seem like an oxymoron." However, I believe that they combine the best of both worlds. Consider the following benefits of yoga:
Greater body awareness
A stronger and leaner body
Increased flexibility with improved range of motion
Natural weight loss
Reduced stress and tension
These are the results from yoga. These are also benefits for being fit and healthy. As a personal certified trainer, I can tell you that a Sun Salutation warm-up cannot be beat for strengthening, building flexibility, and heating up the body. You can modify the postures by choosing Sun Salute C or the Lunge Salute similar to what Anusara yogis do. By bringing the knee to the floor, modifications are possible. On the other end of the spectrum you can ramp up the cardio part by Astanga Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation A and B with the jump back and jump forward adding in extra push-ups, one-legged planks, side planks, or balancing movements.
Many people assume that yoga is simply easy stretching. They picture a person sitting on a mountain in lotus pose humming "OM." Perhaps they remember seeing a yoga show on TV with gentle movements improving range of motion and joint action. Yes, yoga can be this be as well. Yoga truly is for every age, size range, and flexibility impairment. So is walking. Would you say that walking is only easy? I have experienced power walking fast enough to make it cardio, and I have felt my heart beat quicken during a power yoga class, too. Easy stretching - yes; cardio - totally your choice!
Fitness is "the capacity of the heart, blood vessels, lungs, and muscles to function at a high level of efficiency. A person who is physically fit has an enhanced functional capacity that allows for a high quality of life. Quality of life implies an overall positive feeling and enthusiasm for life and the ability to do enriching and enjoyable activities without fatigue or exhaustion from routine and required activities." American Council of Exercise The five components are muscular strength (think Chaturanga or arm balancing), muscular endurance (60 - 70 minutes of Vinyasa Flow yoga postures or Sun Salutes), cardiovascular endurance (Tibetan Rites or Updog/Downdog), flexibility (forward folds, Pigeon pose, ...), and body composition (lean body mass vs. body fat).
I can say that I am honestly more fit today at 53 years old with more energy, more enthusiasm, and a higher quality of life than I have ever had before. Many Saturdays I have taught THREE power yogas in a row from 5:30 - 10:15 in the morning. Yes, I was tired afterwards, but my energy level was still able to carry me through a day of activity. I also believe that my flexibility level prevents the aches and pains normally experienced by people over 50. The best part is that I absolutely love working out with yoga and afterwards have such peace and tranquility. What's fitness got to do with yoga? Absolutely everything!