Why Yoga isn’t the Way to Get Lean

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three people stretching in yoga class

Can you be doing something better for your body than yoga?

Ahhhh, yoga. That time-honoured practice of physical and mental discipline. Also, the inspiration for all of Lululemon’s sexy booty-enhancing pants.

The History

I’m not going to claim to know anything about yoga history. I could certainly copy and paste the info from the Wiki page, but if you’re really that interested then you can do that yourself. Yes, yoga has a long history. It’s been practiced over the millennia by everyone from children to the very elderly. Is that enough reason for you to take it up? That’s totally up to you.

The Benefits

Depending on the type of yoga, you have a range of physical and mental benefits. Certainly if you’ve never done any exercise then yoga will be extremely challenging. Many people think of yoga as a great way to deal with stress. Maybe. If you enjoy a workout it’s a great way to deal with stress, whether it’s yoga or weight training or skiing.

What are you trying to achieve?

If you’re primarily interested in physique benefits like muscle gain and fat loss, then yoga wouldn’t be your first point of call. That’s not to say that yoga won’t do those things, but unless you’ve been sedentary for a while yoga won’t be the best way to achieve those goals. You probably guessed that weight training is the best way!

The Yin to Weight Training’s Yang

Some people (myself included) are naturally drawn to more intense exercise like weight training, martial arts, and sprinting. In Chinese philosophy, the harder physical elements are considered “yang” and the softer elements are “yin”. Yoga is generally a yin practice and can help balance the harder training that you do. Sometimes you feel frazzled and overwhelmed and yoga can indeed provide a welcome reprieve from the tougher workouts you’ve been doing.


I’m not saying that yoga is useless, by any means, but if you’re pressed for time and only have 2 or 3 days a week to work out – and your primary goal is physique-based – then yoga isn’t the best use of your precious time. I try to incorporate some elements of yoga/stretching into my workouts when necessary or desired, but I just don’t have the time to do an hour (or even 90min, as in Bikram!) yoga class.

That’s not to say that I haven’t done it before and that I won’t do it again, but right now my goal is to maintain my physique in an enjoyable way in the shortest time possible.

If you love yoga, great! Do it, enjoy it, and get all the happiness you can from it.

If your main goal is to get lean and ripped, yoga a couple of times a week just isn’t going to cut it.

Ivana ChapmanĀ 

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 9-year-old boy. She is a YouTuber, writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training, chocolate, mountain biking, and ice cream...not always in that order of preference.
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