Building muscles with yoga: yoga has it all

Building muscles with yoga

Building muscles, mindfulness, stretching and more 

There are many different preconceptions about yoga. Some consider it an intense practice, others see it as a light form of exercise. Well, it’s definitely not a light form. Jeffrey van Opzeeland, yoga teacher and founder of yoga centre Yogi Heroes, told us more about his vision of the function and power of yoga. According to Jeffrey, yoga can also help with building muscles. Whatever you are looking for in a workout or practice, according to Jeffrey: “Yoga is the whole package”.

Myths about yoga

According to Jeffrey, the idea that yoga is a light form of exercise is mainly due to the image that has been portrayed in the media. “On social media, yoga has been depicted with clichés for a long time. It was given a vague and dusty image, with yoga studios smelling of incense that are filled with hippies. Social media like to put people in boxes. Wearing dreadlocks would automatically mean that you are into yoga. These prejudices focus on one part of yoga and as a result miss a large part of what yoga is. That puts a lot of people off, which is a shame. After all, yoga has benefits for everyone, including a road worker or bank manager.”

Power training with yoga

This might come as a shock, but yoga is much more than social media makes it seem. It doesn’t just consist of meditations and series of slow movements. You can just as well be building muscles with yoga. “You train many muscle groups at once in yoga classes. Where in the gym you only focus on the big muscles, in yoga you also train the small, deep muscles.” These muscles are slightly less visible to the naked eye, but that doesn’t make them any less important. They provide more stability and mobility. Training these muscles will not only make you a lot stronger. You will also prevent poor posture and damage to your back muscles. Read more about deep muscle training here.

This is not to say that the gym is not a good place for building muscles. Jeffrey can be seen in the gym a lot, in addition to his yoga classes. “Strength training and yoga can work really well together. You can think of yoga as your daily meals and strength training as the dinner out. Yoga is the maintenance of your body, the foundation that makes you feel better physically and mentally. It makes you more focused, sleep better and helps your brain work better. The gym is a nice addition, but it’s not necessary to keep functioning.” Yoga, according to Jeffrey, provides a strong body plus benefits. “A toned body is not the only thing that yoga brings. It also has mental and emotional benefits. A healthy body and a healthy mind, that’s the power of yoga.”

Active yoga forms

If you are interested in building muscles with yoga, there are a lot of active yoga forms to try. One of them is Strong Vinyasa Yoga, a form in which you move quickly from one pose to another. Ashtanga yoga is also a well-known form. Here, you practice a sequence of yoga postures. You follow these poses at a fast pace in the same order. The repetition in this practice makes you strong and flexible. Your heart rate goes up, and a sweaty forehead is almost guaranteed. You also focus  on your breathing in this form to increase your endurance.

Another intensive form of yoga is Power yoga, derived from Ashtanga yoga. During this dynamic yoga class, you perform several powerful asanas in succession. You will also learn to apply different breathing techniques during a physical exercise. This strengthens your condition and makes you stronger. In comparison to Ashtanga yoga, Power yoga is not as strict in following fixed sequences.

After taking these classes, you will know for sure that yoga is not as restful as it might seem. Sweaty forehead or not, with our dry fit yoga shirts, you will come prepared to an intense yoga class. These yoga shirts and tanks are made from an antibacterial fabric mix that quickly draws sweat away. So, you don’t have to worry about sweat stains or unpleasant smells.

Listening to your body

Building muscles with yoga
Jeffrey often models for Renegade Guru. In this photo, he is wearing our Rudra yoga long sleeve Zen.

“Especially when you are just starting with yoga, listening to your body is a must. It’s about learning to sense your body’s needs. What can it handle and where are its limits. Yoga is about getting to know yourself. It’s the path of the self, through the self, to the self. During your practice, you have to listen to your own body and mind. If you have less energy or are not feeling as good during the winter months, you should also ask less of your body.”

“Your limits will vary from day to day. Today you might be able to step it up a notch, tomorrow you might not. On those days, be sure to look for rest. If you start with Ashtanga classes and are very fanatical, it can be very hard on your body. Make sure to take breaks to give your body time to adjust.”

Tip: Make sure you have a good balance between active and relaxed yoga practices. For example, do Ashtanga twice a week and add a Yin practice once to unwind and stretch your body.



The first step

If you want to start with yoga, Jeffrey recommends doing different active practices at different yoga schools. “It’s important to find a place with a good vibe. A studio where you feel comfortable and get the right guidance. Just like eating at a Greek restaurant for the first time, you just need to experience different forms. Listen to your body’s needs and see what you find most comfortable. Most importantly, experience the mental and emotional benefits. Those muscles will come, trust me.”

Visit the Yogashool Yogi Heroes website with this link.

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