Yoga: just as good as any other workout routine

Despite the appearance of working less, yoga can provide a rigorous and challenging workout.


Honor Yoga

A beginner yoga class at Honor Yoga in Eastampton

Lillian Drueding, Opinions Writer

If you think of someone being in shape, you might think about a gym rat or maybe a marathon runner. Although these people may be at a high level of fitness, fitness is not limited to any group of people. According to, yoga is a mind-body practice with many benefits: relieving stress, anxiety and depression as well as improving heart health, flexibility, breathing, balance, quality of life, strength and more. Despite these benefits, some people think that yoga is more therapeutic and less of a good workout regime. However, yoga can provide an adequate level of fitness for those who practice it.

The definition of fitness varies from person to person, but The American College of Sports Medicine describes it as the ability to maintain physical activity and your health based on multiple types of fitness: cardiorespiratory, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition. Cardiorespiratory fitness is measured using your VO2 max, which shows how efficient oxygen is used in your body. Muscular strength is how heavy you can lift, whereas muscular endurance is about how long you can lift it. Flexibility is about the level of your range of motion. Body composition is the percentage of the body that is made up of fat. 

To determine if yoga provided enough exercise, researchers at the University of California at Davis studied the effect of eight weeks of a specific yoga routine on a group of students.

“After eight weeks, the students’ muscular strength had increased by as much as 31 percent, muscular endurance by 57 percent, flexibility by as much as 188 percent, and VO2max by 7 percent—a very respectable increase, given the brevity of the experiment,” reported Yoga Journal. “Study coauthor Ezra A. Amsterdam, M.D., suspects that VO2max might have increased more had the study lasted longer than eight weeks. In fact, the ACSM recommends that exercise research last a minimum of 15 to 20 weeks, because it usually takes that long to see VO2max improvements.” In only a few weeks, practicing yoga allowed for improvements in every level of fitness. 

Everyone lives a different life, so their needs for their workouts are different. Someone who is training to become a professional athlete is going to have intensive training that focuses on what they need for their sport. This workout schedule might include a lot of weight training, but yoga could benefit them too.

“I enjoy yoga because it focuses on strengthening parts of your body that are constantly used in sports while also providing a stress relieving environment,” said sophomore Alyssa Gunning. Yoga can be a good option for athletes whose muscles are constantly under stress, but also for someone who does not enjoy weight lifting or sports too.

If yoga is your main focus for a workout, that doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily less athletic than someone else; it just means you do yoga while they might focus on a different area of exercise and that’s perfectly fine. For people who aren’t motivated to work out, shaming them into feeling like they have to run or strength train isn’t going to help if that’s not what they are interested in. If someone genuinely enjoys a certain kind of workout that’s great, but people need to find what works for them.

I try to include sports practices, running, strength training and yoga into my workout routine because I enjoy it, but that isn’t the best plan for everyone. What’s most important is finding what you enjoy and knowing that yoga is just as good a fitness plan as anything.