Gain Weight, Do Yoga

Today I’m going to wander off my usual topics of pain, mobility and posture and talk about yoga as a resistance exercise. Eventually it will tie back into pain and posture, because one of the core principles of proper posture is strength. How do you get strength? Resistance training.

So, without further ado – Gain Weight, Do Yoga

Yesterday I made the odd claim that I gained weight from hot yoga. I want to talk more about that, because one of the guys-who-hate-yoga complaints is that, “Yoga is just for flexibility, I want to get big.”

Well, I briefly addressed the changes in my weight yesterday. To sum up, I started yoga at about 162 lbs, and I’m presently about 182 lbs, a 20 lbs, 12% gain. While you’ll never make gains like a body builder or power lifter, practicing yoga will increase your strength and muscle mass. How?

Well, that depends on the yoga that you practice.

I might have mentioned, somewhere along the way, that I’m a Bikram Yoga guy. One of the things that Bikram Yoga concentrates very heavily on is lower body strength. It does this directly through leg strengthening exercises, and indirectly through balance exercises.

Several times during class, most of the body weight is loaded on one or both legs, knees bent 90°. Imagine, for instance, doing wall sits, but without a wall. One of the “warm up” exercises in the sequence does two sets of three different versions of that.

Or imagine balancing on one leg while you grasp your other foot, as you lean forward over the suspended knee. If you don’t want to fall down, that support leg is going to be locked solid. For 30 to 60 seconds. Yes, the resistance exercises are isometric, but they’re powerful, and held for significant times.

Another style of yoga I practiced was based in Ashtanga Yoga and this particular routine spent a lot of time on inversions, holding yourself upside down. Now your weight is in your arms, shoulders and back.

I had a teacher who liked to joke that at yoga conferences you knew who the Bikram yogis were by their beefy legs, and the Ashtanga yogis by their arms, and shoulders. I did both and ended up replacing ½ my wardrobe because it all got too tight from the weight gain.

Cross posted at