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The Performance Life

5 Questions for Yoga Lovers

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I don't think I have a problem with the new "magic bullets" in fitness, yoga and Pilates as much as I do with the thought process of a one size-fits-all cures. Yoga and Pilates are obviously two different disciplines with one thing in common: Both seem to be taught and patronized by zealots who believe that their discipline of choice is "the key" to fitness. I can tell you that at least once a month I get approached by an acquaintance who knows what I do for a living who says, "We have to talk about yoga. You have no idea what it will do for your athletes."

1. Can Yoga Boost Speed?

For all you zealots out there trying to help me train my athletes, I actually have done fine without you. Just for the record, there are many folks like me who have been training athletes for decades who have drawn much of their warm-up and flexibility work from yoga but don't feel the need to dedicate two of their eight hours a week to this relatively small area.

I need to work on strength, power, speed and conditioning—all in eight hours a week. I need to do that with a proper warm-up and attention to flexibility. Can't you just see the yoga guy or girl jumping up and down saying, "I know, I know, yoga does all that." The truth is yoga does not do all that. Yoga develops strength to a point, and then simply works primarily on muscle endurance.

2. Will Yoga Really Make You Stronger?

To develop strength, we need progressive resistance exercise. The only way to get that in yoga would be to try to gain weight. If body weight is a constant, then progressive resistance is not possible without adding external load. Sorry. That's a fact.

3. Does Yoga Develop Power?

Yoga by its nature will not develop power. For power, we need speed of movement. Yoga does not have speed of movement. I know some styles of yoga bill themselves as "Power Yoga" but that is a bit of an oxymoron. To develop power, we actually need to move as fast as possible against a given resistance. In yoga, the only available resistance is body weight and no one is moving as fast as possible.

4. How Does Yoga Improve Your Conditioning?

Conditioning. I love this one. The yoga folks say, "But yoga is great for conditioning." How can something be great for conditioning if you don't move? The essence of sport is movement. In yoga you stay in your own little space.

5. What's The Breathing Thing All About?

Please stop telling me about the breathing. I can't tell you how many times people have told me that my athletes really don't know how to breathe and that yoga will totally change them. Thank God I have never had an athlete stop breathing on me. Hey, if it works for you, it works for you. Stop trying to sell it to me.

In Summary

I think many people get tremendous benefit when they commit to a system. That system could be yoga, Pilates, or any other trend that materializes. I think what many people are really saying is, "Hey, I found something that works for me. Let me tell you about it."

The truth is I've thought about it. And I firmly believe it is not the answer you think it is. That should tell you something, but it probably won't. You can't see the forest because of the trees. You're mad that I don't like yoga. Get over it. Go to another class. If I come across anyone who is training to stand in the same place for an hour, I'll send them your way.

Michael Boyle is one of the world’s leading experts in the area of performance enhancement and the owner of StrengthCoach.com. He is also the author of Functional Training for Sports.

Tags: Balance, Stretching, Flexibility, Leisure Time