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Can a yoga instructor help me with fitness and exercise?

Mark Levine
Fitness

A yoga instructor can help you with fitness and exercise. However, they truly help you with stretching and flexibility. One of my client is big into yoga and had virtually no cardio strength. A Yoga instructor will help you with injury prevention or recovering from an injury. Also, a Yoga instructor will help with strength to a degree as holding the positions requires strength in your muscles.

Overall, a Yoga instructor can help you with your fitness and exercise program as long as they add strength and cardio into your exercise program.

From the viewpoint of a certified yoga instructor, i believe that yoga can be a beneficial addition to any fitness regimen. Before diving in there are a few things to consider.

1. Insure that your yoga teacher is certified and has undergone at least 200 hours of training. Most states do not regulate yoga teachers. A great place to start is the Yoga Alliance. They keep a registry of all certified instructors.

2. Know the different types of yoga and the benefits of each. In general, yoga will help with flexibility of the muscles and joints by incorporating full range of motion through flowing sequences as well as static postures. Bikram or hot yoga takes place in a ventilated room heated to about 115 degrees. This is said to help release toxins, however some individuals are heat sensitive and should be cautious. Anusara and Iyangar both focus on alignment principles but each takes a different approach. Kundalini yoga is known as the "aerobic" yoga and focuses on lots of movement followed by steady state meditative postures. Yogajournal.com will give you a starting point for determining which style suits you best.

3. If you are just beginning, try to find a beginner level class and make sure it is small enough that you can get the individualized attention you need.

4. Never allow an instructor to physically adjust you within poses without your expressed consent. All bodies are made differently and the focus should be on how a pose feels as opposed to how it looks.

Yoga can help increase flexibility and core strength and well as lung capacity, since it makes you focus on linking breath to movement. It is great to add to any regimen and is a wonderful tool on rest days

I would say it depends on what you are looking to achieve. If you are looking to get healthier, stronger, make everyday activities more enjoyable- yes, yoga will help you with that and a qualified yoga instructor (certified, at least 200 hrs of training) will guide and motivate you.

Yoga has many other benefits, so by committing to a regular practice you will not only get fitter, but also be more mindful and aware. You will learn about your body's needs and start tuning in to those needs. For example, you might just find that you will make better food choices and also need less food.

If you have specific fitness goals in mind, a good yoga instructor should be able to help you with selecting certain asanas that are beneficial to your performance and complement your other activities.

Yoga teachers can have many additional specialties besides yoga. If they have certifications and experience in fitness and exercise outside of the yoga field, then yes, they can be a great resource to use. However, in the much the same way that a personal trainer without yoga qualifications shouldn't give yoga instruction, yoga teachers without appropriate qualifications should follow the same rule. Be sure to ask questions regarding a professional's credentials and don't be afraid to ask to be referred to someone else that is a better match for what your needs are and what you're looking for.

Possibly, although you should verify the credentials and experience of the yoga instructor before relying solely on their guidance for a health and fitness program. Yoga is a specialized form of exercise that blends strength, flexibility, and deep breathing, and is not a complete solution for a general health exercise program that should also include cardiorespiratory training. Many yoga studios require that teachers complete a 200-hour training program that involves learning anatomy, philosophy, poses, and teaching technique, but you should look for a yoga instructor who also holds a degree in a health or fitness related field or a personal trainer certification if they are going to be your primary fitness consultant.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.