Yoga practice is a very healthy one, no matter if it’s done for 20 minutes or an hour. A proper practice would include twisting, stretching, and folding which has multiple benefits for the digestive system, the circulatory system, the lymph system, and more. Yoga is a natural detox for the body and enhances the performance of the cardiovascular system, all this while developing stronger muscles.
Yoga helps you believe you’re perfect the way you are—with your strengths and your weaknesses yoga is not just about self-improvement, it’s about self-acceptance. Gym classes on the other hand, especially boot camp style classes, are more likely to have you feeling like a failure if you can’t do everything. Thus another benefit of yoga over the gym would include the fact that yoga believes in positive enforcements while gyms depend on negative enforcements.
There are yoga studios that don’t have mirrors so individuals are forced to think about where the body is and how each muscle and limb is doing, whereas gym classes have mirrors to see and worry about what everyone else is doing.
Yoga is a holistic experience. It relies on body strength to perform any asanas. Though modern yoga has found some equipment that enhances the experience of the practice it’s nowhere similar to what happens in the gyms. In the gyms, the workout is dependent on other equipment for weight training. This type of training focuses on a particular tissue in most cases and are prone to serious lifelong injuries if not performed accurately. Yoga on the other hand doesn’t depend on these and gives a full body work out experience.
Yoga is a different experience in a yoga studio, but you can easily practice yoga at home, outside, or in small spaces. All you need is about 6 feet by 4 feet and you have your yoga studio. A gym workout requires more equipment and more space. This does not mean yoga is not intense. Just ask anyone who practices vinayas flows. Yoga builds heat and works your muscles, but you’re doing what your body allows you to do and not attempting to lift weights and pound on the joints—both of which can cause injury. Yoga also stretches as you move through the postures and a good yoga practice builds on itself to prepare the body for the next position. A gym workout increases them. Yoga slowly stretches muscles and opens the energy channels of the body. The increased flexibility keeps muscles and joints lubricated and healthy. Weights and treadmill can cause strain which leads to soreness and injuries.
During times of stress, it’s easy to forget to breathe—breath, and not just shallow breaths. Without deep breaths, it’s harder to think clearly and fatigue can set in. Yoga focuses on the breath so that when you need it most, those deep breaths are the norm. We move through practice with a calm, relaxed expression. No grunting, no dropping weights, no clenched teeth, or grimacing expressions like you see from gym-goers. The overall intention is to release tension throughout the body and mind. Many yoga classes include meditation, or at least Sava Sana. It gives you a chance to clear the mind of the stresses of the day. With practice, stressful situations can be dealt with more easily and overall stress levels decrease. The competitive nature of a gym along with the loud music and bright lights is more likely to increase your stress.
No matter your age or your health, you can practice yoga. Yoga has even been found to help people who have health ailments ranging from Parkinson’s to cancer. Gym workouts, in general, are not designed to be therapeutic, or senior-friendly.