Yoga is well known as a calming and relaxing practice, so if your fitness goals are more performance and aesthetically based, you might have dismissed yoga as not being useful to you. There is a common misconception that yoga is purely for those looking for spiritual or relaxing exercise practice.
However, more and more gyms, studios and trainers are incorporating yoga into their everyday fitness practice, as it’s a great exercise to add to your regime to see results.
Yoga is a very important part of strength training.
When used in combination with other more high impact exercises, yoga can help you to increase your endurance, increase your strength, improve your posture and technique, and improve your balance as well as your flexibility. Adding yoga to your strength training will help you achieve your peak performance, as well as calm your mind and improve your mental balance. Still need convincing?
Here’s our top reasons why you should add yoga to your strength training.
1. Increased Flexibility
A lot of the muscles you use in strength training are agonist and antagonist muscles groups. These muscle groups come in pairs. The agonist muscles are the muscles that cause movement, the muscle that provides the force to move. For example, in a bicep curl, the biceps muscle is the agonist. An antagonist muscle is the muscle that opposes the agonist. AGain, in a bicep curl example, the tricep muscle is the antagonist. The antagonist muscle relaxers or creates tension to allow the agonist muscles to move.
These muscles require flexibility to help increase their strength, which will then improve your performance. Yoga will help you stretch these muscles and increase their flexibility. You’ll soon find it’s easier to get a full range of motion in exercises like pull-ups.
2. Quicker Recovery
Muscles actually don’t grow and get bigger while you’re training but rather during rest and recovery. Strength training is tough on your muscles, and so you need to give them a thorough rest and rehabilitation after working out. This is the time that they will grow.
Yoga is a perfect way to rest and rehabilitate your body, and it will actually improve your recovery process. This is because yoga allows your muscles to stretch and relax, increasing the blood flow to the muscles. In turn, this allows more oxygen to the body, which lets it heal. Through deep breathing in yoga, you’ll allow your body to relax and balance out your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which lets to body heal more quickly.
3. Reduces Injury
Strength training can actually hinder your range of motion, especially in your shoulders and hips. Reduced range of motion can lead to tight and shortened muscles, reduced muscle functionality, reduced joint functionality and loss of joint alignment. All of this can add to the stiffness and tightness you feel after working out. If you practice yoga you can improve this range of motion, helping to reduce injury when you work out.
4. Improves Balance
If you only work out certain muscles, your body can actually become really imbalanced. The shorter, stronger muscles you’re working out can start to overcompensate for your longer and weaker muscles. This can create further imbalance left unchecked, and actually be the cause of a lot of injuries and pain.
Yoga is great to help you identify which parts of your body are unbalanced, which muscles feel tight and which feel weak, by allowing you to be in tune with your entire body. You can then start to correct your imbalance, and bring your body back to a perfect balance. Practicing yoga can address the muscles that are underdeveloped, restoring balance and creating full body strength.
5. Improves your Form
If you lift weights, you’ll know that correct posture and form is essential. Bad posture and form can lead to serious injury. Yoga can help you become aware of your posture, and improve it over time. This will help you to be aware of your form and technique when weight lifting, and will reduce your risk of injury. Keeping yourself aware of your body is a key skill you gain in yoga, and one that will improve your technical form off the matt too. The more you practice, the less you’ll find yourself slouching, and you’ll transform your strength training ability.
6. Improves Breathing
Lots of people tend to hold their breath while strength training, even without realising. This is especially common when you’re struggling or lifting heavy. Focusing on your breathing in yoga can help you become more aware and present in your breathing for other exercise. Learning to breathe deeply will also help you to reduce your recovery time between sets, and clears your mind, as well as bringing oxygen to your body and muscles.
By Amy Cavill
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