Integrating light weights into your regime is another form of hybrid yoga that serves to strike a balance between an individual’s natural strength and level of flexibility.
This fusion has been introduced in several gyms and studio classes under Iron Yoga, Yoga-Sculpt, Buff Yoga, Functional Integrated Yoga, and the likes. Regardless of the packaging, what’s most important is for you to understand the benefits of introducing weights to your daily practice:
Adding light weights coerces the body to build strength, stamina, and self-awareness, which is pertinent to yoga students who have either naturally, or over time attained extreme flexibility. In such scenarios, injury is very probable as such hyper mobile bodies are unaware of their joints limitations and often push themselves too far. This is a classic example of imbalance and abuse of one’s assets—in this case, it means flexibility over strength.
As a yoga teacher, I always stress in class that flexibility with strength is the perfect way to bring your practice full-circle, and use it to its full potential. With age, muscle mass decreases, which also causes a loss of strength. People between the ages of 40 and 70 in particular fall in this danger zone. So, if one incorporates weights to their yoga routine a minimum of three times in a week, muscle and bone density will increase over time, boosting one’s balance, range of motion, and overall stamina.
To demonstrate by example, those of you dealing with weak chaturangas or planks due to lower upper body strength should try this yoga exercise which incorporates light weights. Grab a mat and some dumbbells or kettlebells:
Step 1: Get on all fours (hands holding on to weights and knees). Make sure you line up your wrists under your shoulders.
Step 2: Extend your legs back, one by one, and tuck your toes as you lift your knees up off the floor into plank position. Make sure you keep your core tight and contracted to protect your lower spine (abdominal lock).
Step 3: Inhale deeply, and then as you exhale, raise the light weight up towards the ceiling and hold for one count.
Step 4: Inhale again, and on the next exhale go slowly go back to your starting position. Repeat on the other side. Attempt 5 repetitions to begin with and increase to 8 over time.
On a concluding note, this practice will also help you get through the weight loss plateau by challenging your body to go one step further. It builds endurance, strength, and stresses the muscles in a productive way. Bonuses include aesthetically better looking asanas as you gain postural control and are able to hold them for longer.