One reason to do Ashtanga yoga

One of my apparent good deeds while on our week retreat at Mt. Shasta was convincing someone to give Ashtanga a real try.

That may sound weird, given we were at an Ashtanga retreat. But one of the wonderful things about the getaway with Tim Miller is that “family” come, too.  The person being convinced as we stood in line for breakfast fell into that category, but then spent the rest of the week on the mat every morning.

I’ll give up the secret I imparted. It will just take a few seconds.

While Bobbie was fully committed to yoga, and eventually Ashtanga, I was still running and lifting weights. The serious and committed weight training began just after my 35th birthday. And it worked. I added muscle and got stronger. I was strong enough, even, to occasionally accompany Bobbie to an intro to Ashtanga class. (Kind of like the one she’s teaching now.) My first class probably was a “mala,” consisting of 108 suryanamaskaras. All push-ups, to me at the time.

Tim Miller doing his best to make Steve's down dog part of the canine species.

More than three years ago, I added in more yoga classes — mostly of the dreaded “flow” variety. But that’s what worked into my schedule and it provided enough of a strength and cardio workout to feel like a fit.

Fast forward to August, three years ago. I’m at my doctor, who gives me one of those body mass tests. (I did superbly, thanks for asking!) Then, during the course of the following months, I started doing more yoga and less workouts at the gym… and about six months later I was doing only yoga, with some running, but no more weight lifting.

Same scene, now August, two years ago. I’m again at the doctor, again taking the BMI test. And what’s the result?

Believe it or now, more muscle, including on my arms (not to mention core and legs).

One year doing all weight lifting (well controlled and focused; I had a very good trainer early on) produced less muscle than a year that ended with all yoga, including as much Ashtanga as I could manage (read: home practice a few days a week, flow classes the other days).

That’s when I determined that Ashtanga would give me the physical benefits I was after. (Maybe there is remaining debate about whether I could use more cardio? Anyone have thoughts on adding in running to the regiment?)

OK, so that’s the longer version, perhaps less dramatically presented than while waiting in line for breakfast one morning last week.

But the moral of this story is: Ashtanga can build or at least maintain your muscles. So there’s no reason not to include it as part of a workout. More precisely: Women, there’s no reason your men shouldn’t be going to yoga with you!

OK, there is a reason: It’s what happened next to me… but that’s a story for another post, and one I didn’t mention in that breakfast line. Hint: It involves a few of the other limbs of Ashtanga yoga.

Posted by Steve

Published by


Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

7 thoughts on “One reason to do Ashtanga yoga”

  1. Oh that is great to know. I am on the same path. I lifted weights, ran and practiced ashtanga. From Feb2014 I started only practicing Ashtanga and running. I dont feel that i am weaker but I see that I am softer lol like a marshmellow. Sk my abs defintion is gone and actually i lost muscle mass. But reading this goves me hope. Eventually I want to run less and less. So I will see for the next month how is it going and then will have to decide what to do. Thank you for sharing your journey. Much needed!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s