Do you ever wonder (or worry… only Googled in solitude) that practicing yoga will widen your waistline? Do you worry that it will make your thighs bigger?
The whole point of Hatha Yoga, a 5,000-year-old system, is that you are not practicing yoga in order to melt fat in a certain body part. However, American culture has many people still wondering about this.
Many beginners to yoga will assume that yoga is for weight loss, and that doing yoga regularly automatically slims the figure, especially the waistline. Just as there are many types of yoga lineages and yoga teachers, there are also many types of yoga practitioners–each having different ideas about their goals for their body shape.
In other words, some people wish to slim the waistline and others wish to increase muscle tone, and plump up in areas to look and be healthier and more youthful.
Why You Should Practice Yoga
Although the spiritual aspects of Hatha yoga–to attain enlightenment–are typically weaved into most yoga classes, regardless of the teacher, most yoga teachers emphasize body parts. A dedicated yoga practice does, in fact, invite you to build muscles, increase flexibility and foster endurance.
Some styles of Hatha yoga can be quite challenging (e.g., Ashtanga, Heated Vinyasa Flow) and others quite relaxing (e.g., Restorative, Yin). The type of yoga class you attend on a given day should depend on what you’re trying to gain or lose in your life that day. If it’s to sweat, strengthen muscles and increase endurance, then you will get an overall body workaround and will undoubtedly slim your body in one form or another (as long as you replenish yourself with healthy food and drink upon returning home).
How Your Core is Shaped in a Yoga Practice
The core refers to the stomach muscles and waistline. The rectus abdominis muscle is the long, flat muscle that extends vertically throughout the entire length of the abdomen. The external abdominal oblique muscles lie on the sides and front of the abdomen and are the largest and the most superficial of the three flat muscles in this area.
The ab muscles are not only strengthened with typical “yoga sit-ups”. Many of the yoga postures work both the abs and the obliques, which if strengthened to their edge, create the desired muscle tone that makes you feel alive and well. Yoga poses such as Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana), Triangle (Trikonasana), Warrior One (Virabhadrasana I)–you name it–each emphasize intricate control with the core muscles in order to attain the most optimal alignment. Activating the core often acts to protect the lower back.
Yoga is Not Meant to Focus on Only One Body Part
There is a common misconception that exercise of any kind can spot reduce. Yoga is definitely meant to be an overall body workout (not to mention emotion and mind workout as well). With the more dynamic styles of yoga such as Ashtanga or Vinyasa Flow, it’s safe to say that almost every body part and muscle in the body is extended, touched, stretched or strengthened during a 90 minute intermediate to advanced leveled class.
Of course, the precious abs and obliques are an integral part of any yoga practice. And your thighs are part of all poses. Yoga can help with overall weight loss, which will reveal toned core muscles to define the waistline, and shape your thighs.