Yoga might be perceived as a very cool, relaxed kind of Sport. The kind that you don’t sweat a lot during. Obviously I am talking about Traditional Hatha Vinyasa flow, not all the hot/ Bikram modern styles nowadays. Although sweat should never be your criteria to a healthy effective sport as all of us have different systems and sweat differently from each other.
There are new types of Yoga today that resemble more other sports or the Gym. For example Buti Yoga, Yoga with weights, Cross Yoga, Hot yoga etc.
When we speak about the traditional (Hatha or Ashtanga) Yoga we usually see a lesson that include meditation and breathing techniques in it, poses (Asana) and restorative poses in between and at the end (Savasana).
So, if you are the type of person that feel more connected to this kind of Yoga, you probably ask yourself, is it possible to even lose weight with this practice? Is it possible to gain muscle strength?
The answer is yes. And no :)
I mean, it depend on what your goals are.
Yoga definitely strengthen our body (and mind). If you practice yoga routinely, your muscles and body will become stronger. Many poses and sequences in yoga are built for that. The flow between the poses, together with the breath, together with staying in poses for long periods - contribute to the skeletal and muscular systems tremendously, creating space, oxygenated blood and fluids transitions, activating, stretching, contracting the muscles, joints and internal organs of the body. It also works on intrinsic muscles, those that in general sport activity are not receving enough attetion.
So, health wise & strength wise – Yoga is a good tool.
If you are interested in losing weight also, Yoga alone might not be the solution, however it will attribute a lot to your metabolism, digestive and nervous systems. Practicing yoga will contribute to your process of losing weight. It can be added as complementary practice to running / cycling or other activities that you aim for aerobic and cardio.
Of course all of this, goes without saying, must be accompanied with a healthy balanced diet.
With all that said, there is also a way to use only Yoga as a tool for losing weight and gaining strength: Yoga with weights, resistance bands, kettle-bell workouts, Yoga combined with Pilates repetitions, Buti Yoga and all kind of Hot / power Yoga, practiced more than twice a week – will show results quickly. Even without adding any other sport to your practice.