Successful yoga practice is all about consistency. However, we all might sometimes need a break for one reason or the other. If you haven’t been doing yoga for a while, you may be wondering if a long break can have negative effects on your body.
When you stop doing yoga, your body gradually goes back to how it used to be before you started practicing. Your muscles lose strength, and the capacity of your lungs and the tone of your heart also decrease. However, you won’t necessarily gain weight or lose your muscles entirely.
Yoga greatly impacts your health and has numerous positive effects on how your body functions. When you stop practicing, the change happens on a variety of levels, slowly returning your body to its usual state. In this article, I will explain in more detail what happens when you stop doing yoga.
What Happens to Your Muscles When You Stop Doing Yoga?
The effects yoga has on your muscles differ by what type of yoga you choose to do. Not all versions of yoga practices target muscle strength specifically.
General Effects of Yoga on Muscles
If your goal with yoga is mostly to release stress, practice mindfulness, and improve mental health and concentration, you probably haven’t built much muscle during your yoga journey. Therefore, you needn’t worry about your muscles becoming smaller and weaker.
However, you still might notice them becoming less fit over time. That’s because even the most subtle yoga practice stimulates your muscle tone, keeping your body strong and giving you energy. Additionally, yoga is proven to release aches and pains by loosening your muscles and relieving the cramps as you stretch during regular practice.
All these effects result from consistent exercising, and if you drop yoga, you will start noticing them come to naught as more and more time passes. Yoga is a fantastic way to stay fit and keep your body healthy without exhausting it with severe gym training. Therefore, if you stop doing yoga, you also stop maintaining the body condition you developed over time.
These changes, however, won’t be drastic. You may notice that you get tired more quickly or don’t have as much energy anymore. That would be the case with any type of physical activity: your body needs it in one form or another, and if you stop exercising, your overall physical well-being changes.
The Effects of Power Yoga and Other Yoga Types
Such yoga styles are more suited for sportsmen and athletes, people who prioritize exercising their body and have goals such as building muscle, losing or maintaining weight, and getting regular exercise to stay fit.
Consequently, these yoga types have more impacts on muscle strength, and giving them up brings more noticeable changes. Building muscle requires total commitment and consistency more than anything. What is more, once you gain muscle strength, you have to work hard to maintain it.
Muscles can start to shrink very quickly, and after about four weeks without exercise, you will notice them becoming significantly smaller and much less powerful. Gladly, the process is reversible. If you start training again, it will take far less time to regain the muscles back than it did to get them in the first place.
Still, your power will not be restored as easily. It takes more than just muscle to develop endurance and stamina. As you go back to practicing yoga (if you choose to), you will notice it becoming more difficult to last through a session or do a position you used to nail.
Other Effects on the Body When You Stop Doing Yoga
Yoga doesn’t only influence your physical appearance and body strength. Its most important and powerful effects are not as obvious as they happen on the inside and are not easily visible. If you stop doing yoga, you will experience the reverse of those positive changes. Let’s explore and discuss each of them in more detail.
Effects on Heart Health
Yoga is proven to have remarkable impacts on heart health. Regular practice reduces blood clots, decreasing the probability of a heart attack and other extremely dangerous conditions. It makes your heart work more efficiently, improving endurance and lowering the resting rate. All of this contributes to your heart staying healthy and working to properly supply your body.
These effects are gained through regular and consistent practice, maintaining which is the only way to keep the results you achieved with your hard work. That, of course, doesn’t mean that your heart health will get dramatically worse as soon as you stop exercising. Still, you will gradually lose the heart tone you gained over time, increasing potential risks.
Effects on Blood Flow
Doing yoga is an incredible way to improve your blood flow which brings a lot of benefits.
The levels of hemoglobin in your bloodstream increase. Hemoglobin cells carry oxygen, so if more of these guys are present, your organs and muscles receive more oxygen molecules. This increases the working productivity of each element of your body and also improves the capacity of your muscles to process oxygen, thus increasing endurance.
Yoga poses often require you to spend minutes in twisted positions, focusing on different parts of your body each time. This helps improve the blood flow, pumping more fresh blood and driving away that devoid of oxygen more efficiently.
All of this is extremely important for the health of your internal organs. If you stop doing yoga and exercising in general, all these positive effects will soon fade away. While it doesn’t put you in any direct danger, not stimulating blood flow will result in lower hemoglobin and lower capacity of your organs and muscles to process oxygen, which is not a good thing, either.
Effects on Immune and Nervous Systems
Finally, the effects of reducing stress, improving focus, and generally achieving a state of harmony and balance also come from the physical processes in your body. Specifically, the impacts on the hypothalamus that regulates emotional responses.
Regular yoga practice’s significant influence on the hypothalamus results in more balanced responses to stress, reduced fear and anxiety, and more calmness and self-awareness that all contribute to your mental and physical well-being.
Optimizing emotional responses is great for your nervous system. What is more, it influences the immune system, too, making it stronger and more resistant to potential health issues.
If you stop doing yoga, you may find yourself more vulnerable to the harmful effects of stress which often result in low immunity. That’s because the inhibition of processes in the hypothalamus has to be consistent to ensure a stable result.
Read my guide 6 Ways To Make Your Yoga Routine Actually Stick to help you with your routine.
The changes in your body happen on many different levels as you stop your regular practice.
The most visible effect will be the weakening and shrinking of the muscles you built over time through consistent yoga sessions. If gaining muscle wasn’t your main goal, you may still find yourself having less energy and muscle tone without regular exercise.
You may also experience other changes in your body that will reflect on your overall well-being, including:
- Reduced heart tone and endurance
- Thicker blood
- Reduced capability of internal organs to process oxygen
- Low immunity
- Increased vulnerability to stress and anxiety.