As a personal trainer with almost 10 years of experience and a yoga teacher with 4 years of experience I strongly believe that as great as yoga practice is (that is ashtanga, vinyasa yoga, yin yoga or name your own style), it is not enough to keep fit.
Yes, many yoga poses definitely challenge core strength, balance and flexibility. However, certain things are missing from most yoga poses:
- Exercises for lats (aka latissimus dorsi) . Most yoga poses include pushing motion (think plank, chaturanga, and pretty much any arm balances). However, there is no motion of pulling from overhead position. For this reason, I suggest that you incorporate pull ups and/or rows as a body weight exercise or a pull down exercise on a machine in a gym. These exercises will help you build strength in your lats. Strong lats are very important for proper posture, because they keep your shoulders down and back.
- High intensity cardio. Even a strenuous vinyasa flow has no comparison with a fast run or high intensity interval training. It is paramount to incorporate such training into your routine to improve your cardio-vascular system and as a bonus point, increase the level of endorphins 🙂
- Weight lifting exercises. Yes, while practicing yoga, you perform asanas using your body weight, but in my opinion, just body weight exercises are NOT enough to keep your body fit. I recommend at least doing weighted squats, lunges, deadlifts and use free weights/cables/resistance bands for upper body not only to increase overall muscle strength, but also to improve bone density.