It might sound technical, but isometric yoga is not as complicated as you might initially think.
In fact, isometric yoga simply refers to holding yoga poses for a set amount of time.
If you have ever held a plank or wall squat for 30 seconds, 1 minute, or longer, then you have done an isometric exercise in the past!
There are many benefits to isometric holds, from improving stamina to increasing strength.
And if you are looking to find out everything there is to know more about isometric exercises and isometric yoga, you have landed at the right place.
What Are Isometric Exercises?
Isometric exercises, also often called isometric holds, are a type of exercise in which a certain position is held for time.
A good example of an isometric exercise is the plank hold, which involves keeping the body in a horizontal position with only the forearms (or hands) and toes touching the ground.
During plank holds, various muscles are engaged to maintain the position, such as the shoulders, core muscles, and glutes.
This is contrasted with push-ups, for example, which involve repetitive muscle contractions, or reps – an eccentric phase (lowering the body down) and concentric phase (pushing the body up).
Isometric holds can be done with a range of exercises – and even involve weights. For example: performing a bicep curl and holding the dumbbell at the point the bicep is most tensed is an isometric hold.
In short, isometric exercises involve holding a physically challenging position for a set length of time.
Isometric Vs Isotonic
Something else worth talking about is isotonic exercises, which are contrasted with isometric exercises.
So, as you might have guessed, isotonic exercises involve movement, unlike isometric exercises.
These are the most commonly seen workout exercises, and include push-ups, bench presses, pull-ups, curls, rows, squats, deadlifts, and so on – as all of these exercises involve repetitive muscle contractions.
An easy way to differentiate between isometric exercises and isotonic exercises is that isometric exercises are performed for time while isotonic exercises are performed for reps!
What Is Isometric Yoga?
Now that you know what isometric exercises are, it should be obvious what isometric yoga is!
Yoga involves many different poses or postures—also called asanas—which require flexibility, mobility, strength, balance, and skill to do.
These are performed in yoga flows or yoga sequences, often by transitioning from one yoga pose to another.
And, simply put, if the routine involves many isometric holds (yoga poses that are held in position for a length of time), it can be classed as isometric yoga.
A yoga routine might involve many isometric yoga poses or just a few, depending on the style of yoga and the yoga instructor.
But it’s safe to say that most yoga routines include a good number of isometric holds, since yoga is generally considered a slow-paced form of exercise.
The Benefits Of Isometric Yoga
So, what are the benefits of isometric yoga? And what are the benefits of isometric holds, in general?
It might seem counterproductive to simply hold a pose for a long time – without moving the body at all.
But the fact is, some yoga poses are difficult to do, which makes holding them for a set amount of time a challenge that’s harder than you might think!
The benefits of isometric yoga include:
- Increasing muscle strength
- Increasing joint strength (ligaments and tendons)
- Strengthening fascia (connective muscle tissue)
- Building muscle
- Improving balance
- Improving form
- Improving discipline, stamina, and mental endurance!
So while there are no contractions involved in isometric yoga, challenging your body by holding a position for a set amount of time can increase strength, build muscle, improve balance, and more.
Isometric Yoga Poses
There are beginner, intermediate, and advanced yoga poses, which also means that there are beginner, intermediate, and advanced isometric yoga poses.
Needless to say, some isometric yoga poses are harder to do than others.
Some examples of beginner isometric yoga poses include chair pose (utkatasana), eagle pose (garudasana), warrior 2 pose (virabhadrasana), cobra pose (bhujangasana), standing forward bend (uttanasana), and high plank pose (phalakasana).
Some examples of advanced isometric yoga poses include crow pose (kakasana), peacock pose (mayurasana), floating stick pose (utpluti dandasana), headstand (sirsasana), and handstand (adho mukha vrksasana).
Holding any of these yoga poses isometrically involves tensing and bracing the muscles, maintaining balance, and regulating breathing.
So, isometric yoga is much harder than most people think!
Does Isometric Yoga Build Strength?
Doing isometric yoga can build strength. This is simply because the muscles are subjected to time under tension (TUT), which in some cases can be more difficult than performing an exercise for reps.
For example, if you have performed a body squat before, you will know how the hardest part of the exercise is when the muscles are fully contracted – the bottom phase of the squat when the knees are bent.
This is because this is when the muscles are under the most stress. And the same applies to isometric yoga poses, which require strength to maintain.
As a result, it goes without saying that isometric yoga can build strength and even muscle!
Is Isometric Yoga Good For Weight Loss?
Last but not least, can isometric yoga help weight loss?
As you now know, isometric exercises don’t involve movement; they are static positions held for time that put your muscles under stress.
Weight loss is done by increasing your heart rate to burn calories, which requires performing relatively challenging physical activity – such as running, cycling, swimming, or HIIT.
So, the simple answer is that no, isometric yoga—and isometric exercises in general—are generally not effective for weight loss.
To summarize, isometric yoga refers to holding yoga poses, or any one yoga pose, for a set amount of time.
This can increase muscle strength, build muscle, increase joint strength, improve balance, increase stamina and mental endurance, and improve form.
Isometric yoga is not limited to one style of yoga, and is actually very common in most yoga sequences as yoga is typically a slow-paced form of exercise.
Good examples of isometric yoga poses include chair pose, high plank pose, peacock pose, and handstands!