Are You Ready for Yoga with Weights?

By Larry Payne, Georg Feuerstein, Sherri Baptiste, Doug Swenson, Stephan Bodian, LaReine Chabut, Therese Iknoian

“Can I really do this?” is a question many people ask themselves every day. Maybe you’re new to yoga, new to weight training, or new to an exercise program, or maybe you’ve been lifting weights regularly for years. In each of these cases, you may wonder whether you can engage in Yoga with Weights. The discussion that follows is for people who can’t quite decide whether Yoga with Weights is for them.

A few medical conditions may preclude you from doing Yoga with Weights. If you have a heart condition, you’re obese, or you’re pregnant, think twice before undertaking this form of exercise and proceed with caution. You may have to consult your doctor before doing the exercises.

You haven’t studied yoga

Yoga with Weights is user-friendly, meaning it isn’t intimidating, and you don’t need a background in yoga. The door is always open. Anyone who’s interested is welcome. Of course, if you’ve already studied yoga, studying Yoga with Weights is that much easier because the language and the concepts aren’t completely new or unfamiliar.

For example, you already understand the importance of breathing in exercise. If an exercise instructs you to breathe deep into your chest and lungs, you know what’s what. And if a routine tells you to move into the downward-facing dog position, you know exactly what that is.

You haven’t had weight training (or you lift weights regularly)

You don’t need to have lifted weights before now to study Yoga with Weights. The weights you use are only 1 to 5 pounds and aren’t difficult to get the hang of. If you’ve never picked up a weight before, rest reassured that holding a pair of hand weights or strapping on a pair of ankle weights doesn’t take any expertise whatsoever. The weights help you feel more grounded but don’t weigh you down.

One of the biggest attractions of Yoga with Weights is being able to lift weights and still maintain your flexibility. You get the same muscular tone you get from weight training and work on your flexibility as well. You won’t get “bulked up” or muscle-bound, but your muscles will be toned, defined, and strengthened.

Yoga with Weights may also intimidate people who have lifted weights. Why? Because weightlifters aren’t flexible. Here’s some advice: Stepping out of your element and comfort zone is a challenge for everybody, bodybuilders included, but taking that first step is actually much easier than you may think. For people who lift weights regularly, engaging in Yoga with Weights allows them to reclaim full range of motion and flexibility while maintaining strength, which is just what they often need.

You’re really out of shape

Even if you’re very out of shape, you can still engage in Yoga with Weights. The key is to start slow. Start with gentle walking and breathing exercises. Try to observe a daily walking program of 20 to 45 minutes to get the ball rolling. When you build your confidence, try a balanced workout. You may also want to try low-impact exercises designed for seniors.

Are you a busy mom, CEO, or other dynamic person who struggles to find time to exercise? Then try this: Make a commitment in writing to show up. Enter your yoga class on your calendar and plan your time around yoga.

You’re stiff as a board

Some people are by nature muscle-bound or tight, and they have a limited range of motion. They can hardly lean forward far enough to tie their shoes. People with tight muscles tend to be protective and guarded in their movements. They don’t have the confidence to move freely. This lack of confidence hinders their movements and makes them even stiffer.

Eventually, they may develop bad posture, which can lead to other health problems, including chronic back pain and chronic headaches. Bad posture can compress the internal organs, causing poor digestion, high blood pressure, and respiratory ailments.

If you’re stiff by nature, Yoga with Weights can help you escape the cage that your body has become, spread your wings, and fly. Yoga breathing techniques can improve the blood circulation in your body and bring new healthy cells to your muscles. Where flexibility is concerned, success breeds success.

One muscle unknotting can cause the one beside it to loosen. Even people who are very stiff by nature can become limber if they stick with Yoga with Weights and practice it as little as twice a week. Eventually, your muscles will rest back against your bones and stretch out and elongate, and you’ll be able to move more comfortably and freely.

You’re loose as a goose

Some people are double-jointed. Their tendons and ligaments are more elastic. They can touch their noses to their knees without any distress or bend over backwards to touch the floor. People who are double-jointed, or hyperflexible, run the risk of hyperextending their knees, elbows, and other joints because their ligaments and tendons are too elastic. They’re capable of flexing well beyond a joint’s normal range. Unless they develop the muscular strength to support their supple joints, these people can injure their joints in the course of doing an exercise.

Yoga with Weights helps people who suffer from hyperflexibility strengthen supporting muscles. This extra muscle mass makes the joints more stable.