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Whether you want to stave off muscle loss, support flexible joints, or add extra oomph to difficult poses, just a little bit of strength training can go a long way.

Description: Feel The Power

Small but mighty

Small but mighty is an apt description of yoga teacher Amy Ippoliti. When you see the petite powerhouse effortlessly rock deep backbends and arm balances, it’s hard to imagine that just over a year ago she suffered a shoulder injury that interfered a shoulder injury that interfered with her regular practice. Clearly, her highly developed body awareness and her consistent yoga practice were important in her healing. But her full recovery, she says, required open-mindedness: After months of trying to heal the injury through yoga, she did what some yogis deem blasphemous – she hired a personal trainer.

She’s more than glad she did. The cross – training healed her injury and gave her the stability to do her favorite poses without pain. “I started to become someone who felt like it was great to bring in other disciplines,” she says. “Not only was I getting toned up again, I was starting to see significant improvement in my injuries. Strengthening my back muscles specifically helped my shoulder.” Although Ippoliti had always believed that her yoga practice could – and should – be a cure-all for everything, she’s now a believer in opening up to different modalities when it serves her. “I can still do my yoga practice traditionally. I’ve been enhanced by going to the gym, and I’m able to do my yoga practice even better.”

Description: Bo Forbes

Bo Forbes, a therapeutic vinyasa teacher in Boston

Other yogis see the benefits of combining traditional yoga practice with weight training to create a healthy, balanced regimen. Bo Forbes, a therapeutic vinyasa teacher in Boston, has been combining yoga and weight training for more than a decade in her work with professional athletes. Using her method, Functional Integrated Yoga, Forbes teaches athletes traditional yoga classes on the mat and then incorporates aspects of the yoga practice into their routines in the gym. Watching the athletes both on the mat and in their teams’ training rooms has helped Forbes troubleshoot injuries and create more ease and body awareness in her athletes. “For me, weight training isn’t just about building brute strength. It’s about building self-awareness,” she says.

Description: Bo Forbes

Forbes points out that it’s the students who seem like the yoga “naturals” – those who are flexible to the point of being hypermobile – who become injured. It’s these students who need to build strength and awareness, especially around their joints, so that they don’t unconsciously push themselves too fair into a pose and create an injury. Weight training can be an efficient way for bendy types to build strength and bolster muscle awareness so that they’re working form a palace of integration in the body, tapping into equal amounts of flexibility and strength in their poses. “I’m always looking that flexibility. I think that flexibility without strength is out of balance, and strength without flexibility is, too.”

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