Weight training and yoga are worlds apart in so many ways that it seems a bizarre question to ask. It feels almost sacrilegious to encourage anyone to do anything to aid them in their progress in an art that is about being in the moment, leaving your ego at the door and enjoying the views along the way. What can yoga possibly gain from lifting iron weights in a gym that encourages a very goal-orientated mindset?
Strength. When people begin yoga, this tends to be the particular area of difficulty: they don’t feel that they have enough strength to control the transitions or to hold postures (and breathe in them) as they would like to. Will they get strong by doing purely yoga? Yes. I am a yoga advocate from the depths of my soul. So why bother with anything else?
There is no denying that working out is difficult and going to the gym, harder still. But you tend to be dealing with a side portion of your insecurities (who will I see? Does my stomach bulge in this t-shirt?) whereas yoga demands from you, so much more than that. It reveals all self-doubt and insecurities from your skin and shape right to the very making of your heart and soul. It turns you inside out: making you your most vulnerable. The perfect seed for the ultimate strength. Making the strongest house with the strongest foundations, naked to the eye.
If you arrive on that mat already fairly strong (having previously dealt with your side portion of insecurities), then you have already begun the decluttering of your mind and you will have slightly less to deal with. You will have more strength to support yourself in the postures where your mind needs the nourishment. The self-slandering army is likely to be somewhat smaller so you can enjoy the release that the movement brings your body. Of course, I am only speaking generally here. For some gym goers who have never faced the internal workings of their mind, the self-exposure may still be hard going.
Yoga takes no prisoners and is cruel in its way of being toughest on the beginner- who is yet to receive the mental strength from the journey ahead. I say go easy on the baby, give them milk so they can grow their teeth before you offer them carrots. Yoga offers people who love weights greater flexibility. Weights offers people who do yoga greater strength.
I started yoga in 2013 and now, enjoy my days teaching it. I have learnt so much about myself and yes, it has been tough and continues to be so, but I arrived on the mat strong (ish!) and able to handle my bodyweight. I was faced with my home truths: the fact that I always need to be my best and that is often not good enough, the fact that I find it difficult to be kind to my body and, that my mind is easily distracted, to name only a few (the list is long!). Much of what I can do on the mat, I owe to the dumbbells. For what it’s worth, I think it pays to be open-minded to the ways of getting from where you are now to where you want to be. Sometimes, two ways is better than one.