One of the benefits of a more dynamic style of yoga like ashtanga is that it will build strength. Some women may be scared to be strong fearing that they will somehow make you less attractive. Don’t panic, women build strength differently to men in fact it’s more difficult for women to build strength so chances are you won’t end up looking like Arnie especially not with the bodyweight exercises in Ashtanga Yoga.
Why challenging your strength is good for women
Builds stronger bones and reduces the risk of osteoarthritis
- Muscle burns fat at rest so increases your metabolism helping to build a lean healthy physique
- It’s incredibly empowering and fun to be able to lift your own body weight
- Challenging your strength physically challenges your mind mentally making you stronger and more resilient on the inside and the outside
- It looks beautiful, whoever says woman can not be strong has an outdated view of what a woman is in my opinion, we are many things and some of us are incredibly strong
- It helps you do stuff like lift things and have a stronger core and thus be less prone to injury
Women face a few challenges when building strength. The common thing you will hear is that because we don’t have as much testosterone it is harder for us to build strength. This is true. On top of that our hormones change throughout our monthly cycle. During the two weeks just before your period the levels of oestrogen and progesterone are elevated. During this phase of our cycle it is harder to build up strength.
Just keep going, it is possible for women to get strong it will usually just take longer than a man takes. My husband seems to grow muscle overnight that I swear it would take me months to build!
Building strength in Ashtanga Yoga
Yoga isn’t about being stronger or achieving the next pose it’s more about learning to relax and accept things as they are. That said ashtanga yoga is physically demanding and it will make you stronger so it makes sense to consider your physiology and work with it. Your muscles get stronger when you challenge them and then allow them to recover. Both the challenge and the recovery are equally important here. If you just do what you normally do and don’t challenge yourself then you will maintain your strength which is great but you won’t get stronger because there is no challenge. Also if you challenge yourself everyday then your body will struggle to build muscle because it doesn’t have enough recovery.
If you practice yoga 2 or 3 days a week your body will have plenty of time to recover. If you practice Ashtanga Yoga six days a weeks as I do then make some of the days easier from a strength perspective by just doing the movement using your current strength rather than challenging yourself further. It’s fine to keep moving whilst recovering, and stretching everyday is really good for you.
Have you gotten stronger through practicing ashtanga? How has this changed you?