Is Yoga Really Considered Strength Training?

The origins of yoga date back to 5,000 years ago in India (via Yoga Basics). Since then, the practice of yoga has gathered a horde of devotees around the world who love it for the mental, spiritual, and physical benefits it provides.

While you may be interested in yoga for its physical benefits, don't underestimate the incredible boost it offers your mental health. Because the practice of yoga is rooted in joining your breath with movement, you walk away from your practice feeling more calm and grounded. In fact, according to WebMD, a whopping 86% of yogis say that they practice yoga because it helps relieve stress.

Beyond maintaining your inner peace, yoga is also great for your body. Thanks to its stress-reducing effects, yoga has been shown to improve heart health (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). Because the practice incorporates so much stretching, it also improves your mobility and flexibility, per Healthline.

We know that yoga is excellent for keeping your mind and body in tip-top shape, but can you really compare it to lifting weights and other strength training exercises?

Yoga for building strength

Strength training is an important aspect of maintaining your physical health. It tones your muscles, prevents heart disease, and keeps your joints healthy (via Healthline). But strength training doesn't necessarily mean joining a gym and throwing heavy weights around. Doing squats, pushups, and using resistance bands are all excellent ways to tone and strengthen. As it turns out, so is practicing yoga.

According to Livestrong, certain yoga styles will indeed help build strength. They point to guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which states, "Yoga may also be considered both aerobic and muscle strengthening, depending on the type and the postures practiced."

There are many different types of yoga, ranging from gentle stretching like you would find in a Yin yoga or restorative yoga class, up to more challenging practices like Bikram or power yoga. If you're looking for a strength-based yoga routine, you might want to try power yoga. Registered yoga teacher, Natalie Sleik, told Yoga Medicine, "Power yoga strengthens the muscles while also increasing flexibility. The variation of sequences keeps the brain engaged while you work all muscle groups in the body."