Beef Up Your Yoga Practice

Four Benefits of Using Weights with Yoga for 50+

By Janet Hennard, E-RYT500/C-IAYT ~
When you think of pumping iron, you usually don’t think of the fluid, meditative movements of yoga. But the health benefits of yoga-with-weights, adaptable for any age group, may convince you to integrate this hybrid fitness trend into your yoga practice.

Strengthen Everywhere

Many yoga poses will help you maintain strength as you age, but there is nothing like adding weights to a yoga routine to enhance muscle-building. For example, using dumbbells while practicing a warrior pose not only tones your arms and shoulders, but will more powerfully engage your core and legs to to keep you stable.

Increase Bone Density

Because muscular activity stimulates bones to strengthen, yoga-with-weights enhances the bone-building benefits already inherent in yoga.
Think of that warrior pose again. Your instructor reminds you to keep your back leg straight and strong, your core engaged, and your chest open and lifting — all to assist in pose stability. Now imagine as you hold that pose with extended arms, that you are also holding weights.
This time you may not need those reminders because your body has automatically engaged throughout to stay balanced! The muscle-activation to bone-strengthening effect is naturally enhanced throughout your body.

Cultivate Balance, Avoid Falls

When we think of yoga balance, we often think of more static poses like tree, a high lunge or warrior poses. These are just some of the postures that combine beautifully with hand weights to help cultivate balance. Consider also that, in daily life, falls don’t usually happen in a steady state, but rather when we are transitioning. A yoga-with-weights flow that gently transitions from one pose to the next trains your body to be stronger and steadier in everyday movements.

Build Confidence

As you become stronger and steadier, you will likely feel you are moving through your life with more confidence, and that you are performing daily activities with fewer limitations.

Precautions and Safety

  • Before you try yoga-with-weights, check with your physician.
  • Begin with weights lighter than you think you can handle. Water bottles or food cans are perfect. Increase weights slowly as you progress.
  • Protect yourself against injuries. Wear a joint brace where you may be compromised — wrists, elbows, knees.
  • In the beginning, you may want to choose a class where using weights is optional so that you may comfortably respond when your body is saying, “No thank you, not today.”

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