Yoga Complete Exercise & Health System?


Alrright - how about a “work in and out”. We’re talking ‘complete’, afterall :wink:


Ashtanga is definitely a cardio workout ( or work-in&out). And yoga is a complete physical, mental, and spiritual workout - why else are we all here?
Yes flexpenguin, I would agree with you here. Maybe dependiing on your physique or unless you’re just after muscle mass as a thing in itself so look to weight-training machines for that aim, you should’nt reaally need to look outside of yoga for strength training and the like.(It is intelligent muscle development that you’re after that is functional as well as a deeper “beyondjust superfiical muscles”-holistic approach).I know when i did ashtanga vinyasa type practice with endless chatarangas and down-dogs i developed these quite broad shoulders (i forget the muscles but the ones beside/under the arm-pits and the neck/shoulders- check out renaissance man rupert everett and check out his shoulders to get an almost looks strange and rather odd. i believe he’s a yoga buff too although i’m no gay icon ; ) . i had shoulders similar to that.I’ve seen it before in some ashtanga buffs , really narrow waist and then these proportionately much broader shoulders like a more pronounced than usual V-shape upwards) that’s to say certain musculature were developed after many hours of home practice.-such as deltoids,trapezius, rhomboids etc etc serratus anterior etc. i think it’s all the balancing of your body-weight for long periods on the arms such as down-dog just for example and jump-backs etc that can do it. Now that is a prettyy intense work-out!!! Sorry in-out. True as a style of yoga it won’t suit everyone though all the time.). In fact even one family member commented on how the physique looked a little odd. I think it can do that ,even to some more athletic women-types believe it or not.

I remember Amir made a good point somewhere when he said that the way we train in the West is not intelligent ( or incomplete) but actually bunk with all it’s emphasis on weight training machines and muscle-fitness etc, it can only work so deep.

MindNinja raises this query about there not being enough cardio perhaps. My Q then to Miind Ninja would be:-

Were you breathing through your nose?


I’ve seen Bhastrika pranayama described as similar to a “bellows”, and I’m wondering if that is what you are referring to here. I’d also like to know what you consider to be a “robust” yoga practice. What is it that makes a yoga practice more robust, as opposed to one that is not so robust?


[QUOTE=MindNinja;54673]Yoga to me is an almost complete health & fitness system because in my opinion you really need to do cardio/aerobic training also e.g. running, x trainer, step machine, trampoline, etc.

[B]What does everyone else here think? [/B]

Many do promote it as a complete health & fitness system, way of life, etc but I know for e.g. one Yoga teacher that was previously a competitive runner and they say their cardio/fitness level is nowhere near where it was. Many Yoga teachers of course do lots of other things - cardio/aerobic exercise, weights, different sports, etc but there are many that do basically nothing but Yoga - is it enough for overall health without added cardio/aerobic training?

I’ve seen Yoga that is meant to be faster or more aerobic like Ashtanga but it really isn’t much faster nor is it going to improve you or push you cardio wise.[/QUOTE]

I suppose you refer to Hatha Yoga and the Asana practice therein?

IMHO, the Asana practice is meant to accomplish one thing primarily and everything else is secondary. The primary objective of Asana practice is to enable the body to withstand the flow of Prana that is generated by Pranayama practice which follows after some experience in Asana is attained.
The secondary objectives are really “side-benefits” of a regular Asana practice. Muscular toning, increased stamina, increased metabolic rate, etc.

I learn a traditional Tamil Siddhar Yoga which my Guru calls Mahashakti yoga and its objective is to activate the Prana in the practitioners body and raise it up from the mooladhara to the Sahasrara chakra. The asanas themselves are
not extremely difficult yet they have a very powerful effect on the prana flow in the body. Over time it had built up my “circuits” (Nadis) to withstand increased flow of prana that is generated during a very specific series of pranayama practices and result in raising the kundalini through the central channel.

If you want cardio, do cardiovascular training such as running etc. You won’t get much cardio with asana practice unless you are doing it wrong. You can do Surya namaskar to get a cardio workout but that is still not the directed, heavy cardio of running or swimming etc.

Yoga practice is internal and it teaches us to learn to live within the boundaries of our physicality. The physical limitations are (and should) be gradually overcome. The body should release blockages naturally and as the release happens the energy will flow uninterrupted and naturally. If you have a practice that forces through the “hurdles”, it will do more harm than good in the long term.

The health benefits will come if the practitioner follows the the first 4 limbs of Ashtanga…the mental and spiritual health benefits will come if the practitioner follows the 8 limbs of Ashtanga. In short, the first and 2nd limbs build the foundation of the house. The 3rd and 4th limbs support the annamaya and pranamaya koshas. The 5 and 6th limbs support the vijnanamaya and manomaya koshas and the 7th and 8th limb supports the anandamaya kosha (the 5 sheaths of the body…the physical, energetic, mental, psychic and spiritual layers/sheaths).



[QUOTE=Asuri;55139]I’ve seen Bhastrika pranayama described as similar to a “bellows”, and I’m wondering if that is what you are referring to here. I’m also interested in what you consider to be a “robust” yoga practice. What is it that makes a yoga practice more robust, as opposed to one that is not so robust?[/QUOTE]

This is a straightforward question, and I’m a little puzzled by the lack of a response.


In India there was famous Wrestler that went his entire career undefated. His 2 primary exercises for strength & fitness were The Baithak (Squat) & The Dand (Cat-Stretch) - though he would do thousands of repititions daily!

Cat Stretch - downward dog is in Yoga of course but most Yogis probably don’t do masses of repitions daily. The Squat - Is it in Yoga too (never seen it done in Yoga on it’s own or with high repetitions, though have seen it or variations especially in transitions to movements)? May well be, a full body weight squat (weight more on heels going to 90 degree angle with legs, upper body straight) then repeat.

So even adding high repetitions of the above 2 exercises to Yoga practice will greatly improve fitness. For example body weight squats yawn so easy most people would say , well your average long distance runner could not do a 1000 with good form going deep [B]though [/B] conversley someone that could easily do a 1000 or more would have little problem doing a long distance run.

You have to consider Energy Output too, easiest way to calculate it Weight x Vertical Distance x Repetitions (Newton’s Laws of Physics), so a runners total energy output running is low compared to someone doing thousands of squats, hence person doing squats will be more adaptable to running than vice versa.

Body weight squats I find are great warm up for Yoga practice too.


No it is not what I am referring to. I am referring to the concept of working something back and forth LIKE a bellows. I do not find that pranayama to be safe, do not practice and and do not teach it to students.

I’m very sorry I didn’t meet your needs with reply in a timely fashion. Unfortunately I have been moving and have not had the time to devote to sharing yoga with others here on the forum. I hope you’ll find it in your heart to forgive my selfishness.

Thank you so much for asking for clarification. My apologies for the muddled first attempt.


[QUOTE=Asuri;55139]I’ve seen Bhastrika pranayama described as similar to a “bellows”, and I’m wondering if that is what you are referring to here. I’d also like to know what you consider to be a “robust” yoga practice. What is it that makes a yoga practice more robust, as opposed to one that is not so robust?[/QUOTE]


Physical activities like a long walk, running, exercise, playing any sports or work-out are all important for human life. It’s not just beneficial for our body the importance of physical health is best known for our mental health as well. Children from a young age as well as the adult of old age are both are encouraged to be physically active regularly.