Which is best – Yoga or Strength Training? What about Yoga and Strength Training?

Written by Philip Walter on Feb 18 at 4:32 pm in free weights, hatha yoga, itBODYnature, resistance training

which should come first - yoga or strength training?


So which is it – yoga or resistance training? The two practices seem to indicate different paths to completely different destinations in terms of physique and functional ability. The yogi is the skinny guy or gal who can twist him or herself into a pretzel while calmly and annoyingly chanting AUM! The weight lifter is the meathead who spends too much time in the gym developing big muscles that may look good but are largely inflexible and non-functional.

Thankfully these two opinions are gross and inaccurate generalizations.

I personally think the research shows a combination of yoga posture practice and strength training is the best thing you can do for your body, aside from proper nutrition of course. This is not really a new concept. Health clubs all around the world have regular yoga classes in addition to their free weights and nautilus machines. We learned a few years ago in the book Real Men Do Yoga, that even football players can get a lot out of supplementing their heavy lifting with some rigorous posture practice.

But how well have yoga and strength training really been integrated in popular training regimes? Not too well in my opinion. The two practices remain separate things to do on separate days for separate purposes. Read on to find why recent discoveries indicate this should change.

As I pointed out in a recent paper, biotensegrity represents a new way of looking at the organization of the human body. It’s based on the architectural principles of tensegrity structures. While this idea is still largely up for debate, early research seems to support it.

Tom Myers has shown through a series of compelling dissections that global tension lines (he calls these lines Anatomy Trains) indeed run throughout the body. Dr. Stephen Levin proved during arthroscopic surgery that our bones never actually touch each other (not under normal circumstances, as least). Furthermore, research by Donald Ingber at Boston Children’s Hospital has shown how even at the cellular level biological systems behave in a way consistent with tensegrity structures.

Based on this evidence, it seems to me that the overall health of the physical body, at least in terms of comfortable, efficient movement, boils down to the maintenance of tensional integrity. I say this because the word tensegrity itself is a contraction of the phrase, “tensional integrity.” This indicates to me a full integration of strength training and yoga posture practice is essential for maintaining a body that can move with strength and grace in any situation.

Resistance training, whether by picking up dumbbells, barbells, or even your own bodyweight, takes care of the tensional part, while yoga practice takes care of the integrity part. If you’re interested in creative ways to integrate yoga posture practice with strength training in your own practice, subscribe to my Integral Fitness Newsletter using the form below. Also, keep an eye out for my new book, The Brickhouse Bodymind Blueprint, set for release March 21. In it you’ll find high-quality pictures detailing my own methods for achieving tensional integrity through the integration of yoga and strength training.

In the mean time, also check out Scott Sonnon’s Circular Strength Training system, and The Bodyweight Exercise Revolution e-book. As always, please leave a comment or drop me an e-mail at philip(at)brickhousebodymind(dot)com if you have any questions about content or if you have suggestions for future content.

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