As a personal trainer and yoga teacher I often get asked this question: Can yoga really sculpt my body? The answer is yes. Yoga is a totally viable form of exercise.
Dr. Dean Ornish's famous studies found that the relaxation you receive from practicing yoga and meditation are just as important for the prevention of heart disease as the fitness benefits of cardio. I started doing yoga because I wanted the yoga booty. Ultimately what keeps me going, 13 years later, is the sense of inner peace I feel after each and every class. You can't mimic this same feeling after lifting weights for one hour. In our fast paced world, this is the mass appeal of yoga.
Yoga lets you sculpt, tone, and mold your body using your body weight, instead of using weights to increase your muscle mass. This builds a leaner body, with more natural tone and definition. Bone is living and is continually being absorbed and renewed. Weight bearing exercise, like balancing on one leg in tree pose, puts healthy stress on your bones. This causes new bone to be laid down in the stressed areas, thus strengthening your bones and helping to prevent osteoporosis. Also, yoga moves your joints through a full range of motion. This helps in the prevention of osteoarthritis. As we become older, balance and coordination become a concern. Yoga helps us to keep our freedom into old age.
To really get a workout, you need to up the intensity by practicing a more vigorous style of yoga like Power or Kundalini. You could also try holding the postures for a longer period of time, or moving through the same postures several times.
Ultimately, yoga increases your body awareness and helps you to feel more comfortable in your own skin. When you feel good about yourself, you radiate that out into the world. Nothing is more sexy than a person who displays an honest inner confidence.
Yoga teaches us mindfulness. When we are mindful, we make better lifestyle choices. We eat healthier and drink more water. Overall, we are happier, kinder people. As your yoga practice evolves, so will you. Allow it to be an exciting journey into the deepest layers of yourself.
Try different styles of yoga to challenge your muscles in new ways. Keep your routine exciting and fun to prevent boredom. Listen to your body by balancing your practice's Yin and Yang elements.