A lot of avid gym rats don’t believe that yoga is a good workout – but they are oh so wrong! Yoga not only builds flexibility but can help improve strength, balance, and psychological aspects as well.
5 Ways Yoga Can Improve Your Performance
1. Increase Flexibility
When weight lifting is part of your work out regimen, flexibility and mobility are necessary for proper form and can also reduce injury. Yoga is great for both of these, and with better flexibility comes improved strength by allowing you to use proper form on every exercise.
2. Build Strength
Yoga isn’t seen as a strength building workout, but it can and it will with continued practice. Yoga supports body-weight strength, which is great to complement weight lifting. Having a strong and sturdy foundation, and core, which is crucial when training or weight lifting, can be achieved through the right yoga poses.
3. Body Mindfulness
Yoga offers a sense of being centered that no other workout offers. It allows you to blend the line between your body and your mind, and can help you prevent injury. The more familiar you are with how your body feels during certain movements the more likely you are to feel a strain, or a lack of strength when lifting. This is beneficial because when all of your adrenaline is pumping, some mindfulness can be helpful to avoid injury.
4. Active – Recovery
Yoga can lend a recovering hand on your “off days.” When you’re feeling too sore to lift, you can do yoga! You can stretch out your limbs and work on strength without losing sight of “recovery day”. Active recovery can help you feel better than you would if you didn’t work out at all. You’ll utilise the muscles you want to strengthen, and give them some time to recover as well.
Not only is the yoga environment non-competitive, it also offers a sense of relaxation during a busy day. Being stress free can help you improve your performance because you will feel renewed all around.
Simple Yoga Routine
Yoga can contribute to physical performance and your mental health and self-awareness. Here are some moves you should focus on if you want to recoup and revive on your “Off Day.”
Yoga Pose #1: Downward Facing Dog.
Go into full plank pose and push your butt up into the air. Keep your shoulders down and your arms and legs straight. Try to push your heels and your shoulders to the ground.
This move stretches and lengthens the muscles in the shoulders, and in the back of the legs, which are pivotal parts of the body for the weight lifter. Lifting weights can cause your shoulders and hamstrings to get very stiff. This move will help you stretch out your shoulders while engaging the core and the arms. Another body part this move helps to strengthen, which may not seem as obvious, is the hand. Being able to get a good grip on the bar when you’re lifting weights, or even doing pull ups, is important. Make sure you space out your fingers when doing this position to get a better grip on your mat (or the ground!) and avoid putting too much pressure on any specific joint in the hand.
Yoga Pose #2: Chaturanga.
After doing your downward facing dog for about 5 long breaths, flow forward to a full plank pose, and then lower yourself down to Chaturanga. Chaturanga is the lowest point in your push up before touching the ground. This utilises your body weight and gives you a decent arm workout as well as active recovery for your biceps, triceps, and shoulders.
Engage your core while doing this and make sure you are keeping your back straight and your head parallel to your back. Don’t let your butt or your head dip down and break the straight line from your head down to your tailbone. Keep your legs engaged and make sure you are hugging your arms into your body and dropping your shoulder blades away from your ears.
You’re not sitting in this pose, you are flowing through from Downward facing dog. Finish it by heading to the next pose in the sequence….
Yoga Pose #3: Upward Facing Dog.
Upward facing dog is good for stretching the chest, the lower back, and the thighs. Make sure your legs, hands, and the tops of your feet are flat on the ground, your head is up and your chest is open. This will broaden your shoulders and stretch out your chest, and in yoga terms “Open your heart.”
These three moves should be done sequentially. Generally, I like to go into downward facing dog, then move through to plank and lower my body to the ground in Chaturanga, and then to upward facing dog. Make sure you are taking deep breaths during this entire process, as that is also revitalising for the body and enriches your muscles with oxygen.
Give it a try and let us know what you think!