Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

Can Yoga help build muscle? If you are a gym rat who spends hours pumping iron, you might have a hard time believing that it does. In this article, Sadhguru gives us his perspective on the ongoing debate: Strength Training vs. Yoga.

Sadhuguru: One is about looking good; the other is about being good.

The human muscular system is a phenomenal thing. What our muscles can do is fantastic. And this can be enhanced by strengthening them, but at the same time making them very flexible. If you do a lot of weights, your muscles will look big. You’ve seen people who have grown big muscles; they cannot do a namaskar properly. They cannot even bend.

If you just want muscles that look good, these days there are easier ways to do this. You could get bicep implants. The silicon doesn’t go just into the breast; it goes into biceps, into calf muscles, into everything. It doesn’t matter that it’s useless. You don’t have to work hard, take cortisones and hormones, and go on pumping iron. There are easier ways, if it’s just about looking good.

Yes, body-building gives you brute strength. But you can build the same strength in a completely different way and you don’t have to look like a beast. You can look human and above all keep your body flexible, which is very important.

Yoga involves the use of your own body weight to do exercises. Angamardana is just this: using your own body weight to do all the exercises. Then you will have no excuse that there was no gym around. You can exercise wherever you are, because you still have your body. This is just as effective in building the body as any weight training is, and it will not create an unnecessary stress on the system. It will not make you look like a beast. It will make you look like a sensible human being and also make you strong, very strong.

So, should I not lift any iron? You could, because physical exercise and activity have been taken away from our lives by modern technology. We don’t have to carry a bucket of water, or this or that; everything is done by machines. Except your iPhone, you don’t really have to carry anything, isn’t it? So, since you are not using your limbs throughout the day, light weight training is okay.

There are various aspects to well-being: health, energy, psychological and spiritual. So when we invest 30 minutes to an hour in the morning, we want to see that the benefit is across the board for us, not just in bunched up muscles.

Editor’s Note: Learn Angamardhana from a Isha Hatha Yoga teacher near you.

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