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Yoga can help you develop the strength you need for other exercises.
Yoga can play a helpful role in your fitness routine, and it can even help you to develop toned, lean muscles. Particularly if you're struggling with aches and pains, yoga can be a good way to ease into a physical fitness routine. However, it's unlikely that yoga will help you lose weight, which means that if you're hoping for a slimmer body, you'll need to incorporate other types of exercise into your routine.
Reducing Muscle Pain
If you have tense muscles, weak joints or a history of injuries, you might find that strength training is too painful and regular cardiovascular exercise exacerbates your injuries. Yoga stretches your muscles, gradually building strength, and advanced yoga uses your body weight to build muscle mass. The steady increase in strength can help to ease pain, making it easier to engage in other exercises such as weightlifting and running.
Many yoga poses provide body-weight exercise, forcing you to support your body weight for an extended period of time. These exercises work similarly to traditional calisthenics such as squats and lunges, and can help you build muscle and tone up using your own weight rather than by lifting weights. The transition from one pose to another can help you build balanced strength throughout your body rather than just targeting a particular area.
No matter how much muscle you build, you won't notice it if you're not also burning fat. You'll burn some calories during yoga and, with daily and intense yoga sessions, you could even lose weight. However, cardiovascular exercise is generally more effective for burning calories and losing weight. Try using yoga as the warm-up or cool-down for your cycling, running, walking or jogging routine. You can also use yoga as part of a circuit-training routine, doing brief periods of yoga interspersed with cardiovascular exercise.
If you want to maximize the strength-training capacities of yoga, try yoga poses that force you to support your body weight. Downward-Facing Dog, for example, supports much of your body weight using your arms, while the Chair pose tones your legs by holding your body in a modified squat. If any pose is painful or you feel uncomfortable muscle stretching, only go as far into the pose as you comfortably can.