So maybe meditation, hymes, and breathing exercises aren’t your thing, but don’t write off yoga right away. While you can reap benefits from a traditional yoga practice, yoga has become much more fitness oriented in the recent past. If you are looking to tone and strengthen your body uniformly, yoga might just be the answer for you.

Stephanie Armstrong, who has an instagram account (@yogachallenge) with over 16 thousand followers that features many challenging yoga poses to try and inspire towards, comments on yoga and fitness.

“I don’t think that there is any one way to incorporate yoga into your fitness training. Nor is there a wrong way of doing it. You will have people who say that you are not a true “yogi” if you don’t adapt to the yoga lifestyle along with the classes or poses. I disagree completely. Yoga provides you with the tools or poses and what you do with them is up to you. For me, I use them to strengthen my core, back, and arms. If I have to modify a “traditional” pose to make it more challenging for my body, that’s what I do!”

If you are looking to lose weight, some yoga classes will benefit you and others will not. A Vinyasa Flow class, specifically Ashtanga, Power or Hot yoga will help you burn fat and get your heart rate up.

Going to class is important to give you the base of strength you need for the more challenging poses. Having a trained teacher to show you the correct form and posture in certain poses is equally as important for a safe and effective practice. However, there is nothing stopping you from trying postures at home in between classes.

“I didn’t learn how to do all of the challenging inversions and arm balances that I can do in class. I did it at home with a lot of time and practice. The key is to know the correct form, which you learn from a teacher in class, and to practice safely. That means doing handstands against the wall at first and using a pillow so that you don’t face plant when you fall out of a arm balance.

Even if you are constantly falling or not seeing immediate improvements in your practice, the changes are happening. Those small muscle groups that you aren’t used to working are being exercised, and soon enough you will surprise yourself and perform a pose you never thought possible.”

Visiting @yogachallenge on instagram will give you a whole new perspective on the strength that yoga can provide to those who practice. There is no doubt that the combination of power, flexibility and balance is unparallelled by any other fitness training.

“There are three things that people may not know about me just from my instagram page. One is that yoga is not the only thing that I do. I workout for an hour everyday in addition to my yoga practice. It is a tool for me to de-stress, strength train and have fun. Two is that I don’t have all the time in the world to exercise. I am a full-time dentistry student and just like everyone else, I am really busy. I do what I can when I can. I wake up really early to exercise and then will practice poses in front of the TV or do a quick flow in between textbook chapters. When I have time, I will do a full hour and a half class, but when I don’t, I reap the benefits of individual poses in between chores or studying. Three, I am not a gymnast. Learning to invert did not come easy to me and I have no prior training in gymnastics. Doing inversions toned my back and core unlike any other fitness training I’ve tried before. I will add that I used to be a dancer, so the posture and flexibility did come easy to me but is something that the average Joe can learn too”.

So, if you are looking for a way to increase your flexibility in a new and fun way that isn’t just a quick stretch after weight or cardio training, yoga may be the answer. Not only will your flexibility increase but you will strengthen muscles you never knew existed, all while using your own body weight. Adding yoga to your fitness regime will only make you a better overall athlete and give your body that extra bit of tone, flexibility, balance or strength that you have been looking for.

By Stephanie Armstrong