Why Yoga Isn’t The Perfect Workout

This might shock you. It might even offend you. But I need to tell you something. Yoga is not the end-all, be-all of physical fitness. Practicing yoga and nothing but yoga will leave your body imbalanced. However, these imbalances can easily be corrected with just a few exercises, and it can take as little as 5 minutes per day. Below, I’ll list the 4 movements that yoga lacks, as well as 2 movements that are in the grey area. After that, I give you specific exercises to address each. Enjoy! Watch the video below or read the blog to learn more.

Here’s what most yoga lacks:

1) Pulling / Rowing with resistance, scapular stability exercises

2) Wrist flexion, ulnar deviation and radial deviation

3) elbow flexion (specifically exercises that engage the biceps)

4) variation – outside of poses that you are trying for the first time, you are not training your body to move in different ways. At some point, you have performed every [useful] combination, variation, or extended form of each pose.

And my sorta-lacking list:

5) ankle weakness – strength and mobility

6) cervical range of motion – ear to shoulder stretch


1) The answer to a lack of pulling, rowing, and scapular stabilizing exercises:

Australian pull-ups, chin-ups, or strict pull-ups. Best to do these slow and in control. Also good to hold at the bottom of a pull-up and at the very top of the pull-up.

Rows with resistance bands. Strict horizontal rows, and rows with 90 degree external rotation and palms facing down to start.

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strict row row

Scapular stability exercises (rotator cuff strengtheners) – external rotation, internal rotation, and strict goalpost arm levers.

arm lever rotator cuff internal rotation rotator cuff external rotation

2) The answer to lack of wrist flexion:

Wrist curls with a small weight, ulnar deviation (moving hand toward ulnar, thumb forward), radial deviation (moving hand toward radius, pinkie forward)wrist curl

ulnar and radial deviation

3) Making up for the lack of bicep work:

Hammer curls, strict bicep curls, chin-ups

strict bicep curl hammer curl

4) Addressing the lack of variety:

Do different types of exercise. Learn to move in different ways. Try new things. Continue to teach your body new patterns of movement.

5) How to fix weak, immobile ankles:

calf raises, walk on your toes the length of the mat, more focus in warrior poses / lunges on ankle stretching (pressing into the outer edges of your feet), running on grass with minimalist shoes, focus on technique in running, propelling forward off the toes (calf extension)

6) Addressing the lack of cervical strength and range of motion:

Ear to shoulder stretch, chin tucks.

I understand that many of you will want a visual for these exercises, which is why I’ve created a video that goes through all of the above exercises.

To summarize, I want to say that yoga is a fantastic, full-body workout. 85% of what I do is yoga, and the rest of what I do is exercises like those listed above. I look forward to your comments and feedback, but mostly I hope that this post helps people think a little bit more about their yoga workouts (and make sure that they are supplementing their fitness routines appropriately!)

You can watch the vlog version of the above post, as well as all of the mentioned exercises above, in this video.

Don’t have any resistance bands? Turn any door handle, railing, or post into a gym. Click here to get the ones that I use. (They’re only $30, and they are a very effective travel-friendly alternative to gym equipment!)

About the author, Dean Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Man Flow Yoga, Author of Yoga Fitness for Men, Expert on Yoga Fitness for Men.

Dean Pohlman is an E-RYT 200 certified yoga instructor and the founder of Man Flow Yoga. Dean is widely considered to be an authority on Yoga for Men. He has worked with physical therapists to create yoga programs for back health and spinal recovery. His workouts and programs have been used by professional and collegiate athletes, athletic trainers, and personal trainers; and have been recommended by physical therapists, doctors, chiropractors, and other medical professionals.

Dean is a successfully published author through DK Publishing (Yoga Fitness for Men), selling 35,000 copies worldwide in English, French, and German; in addition to being a co-producer of the Body by Yoga DVD Series, which has sold over 40,000 copies on Amazon since its release in 2016.

Man Flow Yoga has been featured in Muscle & Fitness Magazine, Mens’ Health, The Chicago Sun, New York Magazine, and many more major news media outlets.

Dean And Dog

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3 thoughts on “Why Yoga Isn’t The Perfect Workout”

  1. Thank you for this!
    Unfortunately you are right about yoga leaving you with imbalances…
    and as far as I know there is no asana that targets, let alone isolates the biceps.
    However, for scapular stability, wouldn’t variations of pincha mayurasana help? or even sirsasana variations?

    1. Or instead of standing on your forearms or your head (because most people can’t), you could just use resistance bands. Most people don’t even do the arm balances correct anyways. Doing an inversion is no guarantee that there is scapular stability.

  2. Mark Grenville

    Yep, defo needed to be said. I tend to use the bands in the yoga workouts while holding other position/asnas. Have to be careful to maintain form, but that’s just adding to the experience.

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