There is a massive misconception in mainstream society and the fitness community in general, that yoga is for women, old people and cosmic types. Yoga is for everyone!
Stretching helps prevent injuries, keeps the muscles loose, and should be a part of your health maintenance routine.
Not stretching actually limits the growth and size of the muscle and it's output.
Stretching elongates the fascia, a protective sheath of connective tissue covering all muscles and muscle cells. On the molecular level, fascia tissue is actually stronger than structured steel. It's very tough stuff.
When the fascia is stretched using the techniques of yoga the muscle underneath is ultimately given greater room to grow. Stretching also gives the muscle a greater shape, with more convolutions, so muscle separation improves as well.
Stretching when combined with proper nutrition can even alter bone structures. Bone structure can change dramatically such as sternums being pushed out to clavicles increasing in length, thereby increasing the shoulder structure.
Yogic stretching can be especially good for muscle groups that don't respond well to regular weight training.
Can yoga really make you stronger?
Yoga when done consistently can increase your strength. Strength through yogic stretching is related to your golgi tendon reflex threshold, which limits a contraction well short of the point at which the tendons would be injured.
Regular stretching gives your muscles the ability to fire more efficiently without shutting down in response to stretched tendons. The golgi tendon organs (GTOs) are located in the tendons near the ends of the muscle fibers. Essentially these GTOs are stretch receptors, and they respond to changes in muscle or tendon length as a muscle or tendon is stretched, or when a muscle contracts powerfully.
They act as a safety mechanism for the muscle and tendons. If the intensity of a muscular contraction or a stretch exceeds a certain critical point, an immediate reflex occurs to inhibit the contraction or stretch. As a result, the muscle instantly relaxes and the excessive tension is removed, and with it the possibility of injury. **Keith had this to add here about golgi tendon not sure if it is right or not but we are sharing it **
In other words the GTOs shut down the muscle to prevent injuries. If the GTOs didn't exist, it would be possible to have a stretch or muscle contraction so powerful that the muscle or tendon would be torn of their attachments!
In the weight room when you fail with a weight on a max rep, it isn't just because of muscular fatigue: it's because your GTOs fired and shut down your muscles. So how do you raise your GTO threshold? By stretching your muscles and ligaments regularly you can raise your GTO threshold, gaining a strength increase by as much as 15 to 20%.
The higher your GTO threshold, the more intensity you can train with which leads to greater strength gains.
How else can yoga help?
Also by learning the practice of yoga, you will learn how to use your body, to form a solid foundation that you can press of. You will learn how to use your stomach muscles to get into a powerful position to work off. You can throw away and burn that weight belt and use your own natural stabilizers - your abs!
Also you don't have to be fat to be strong. A lot of people who are into strength training believe that you have to "have the bulk." This is a total myth however if you believe it's true, well then it must be for you but not for us!
It's time to think outside of the square and break away from the misinformation that people in the fitness industry have been preaching all these years. These guy's have a lot to answer for. A lot of their principles are wrong and the only people that have benefited from it all, are these "sharks".