The yoga practice may not necessarily make you think of the word ‘strong’ - but it’s a common misconception that the practice is all about getting bendy and flexible. Yoga can actually be a great addition to strength training and can make you more powerful and strong both in the gym and your day-to-day life.
Combining yoga with strength training can not only make you stronger - it can actually help reduce your risk of pain and injury. Read on to find out how.
Yoga is a form of bodyweight training
If you’re working on a specific set of muscles, perhaps to increase strength in these areas, or for aesthetic reasons, it can be easy to neglect the other muscles in your body - which can hinder your progress. Yoga as bodyweight training can help to even things out in your body.
When you practice yoga, it uses all of your muscle groups to create overall strength. The longer you hold yoga poses, the more endurance your muscles will gain. In particular, yoga focuses on building strength in abs, obliques, and lower back - which are the core stabilizer muscles.
Yoga can stretch your tight muscles
If you’re no stranger to strength training, you’ll know that tight muscles and limited range of motion can kick in and affect your gains. Tight muscles are caused by; either the length of inactivity - if you work a desk job you may be more at risk of this, injury, or post-workout, which can also be used as delayed onset muscle soreness.
Yoga can help to release tension in tight muscles, by using both static and dynamic stretching. This will increase flexibility, reducing soreness, and increasing your range of motion. If you lift heavy weights, this is vital in improving your recovery time and will get you back in the gym in no time.
Yoga improves joint health
Strength training can strengthen your muscles that surround the joints, which allow them to remain stable and able to absorb impact. However, joint health also relies on something called synovial fluid. This fluid moves around the joints, allowing the bones to smoothly move over each other without any friction. Synovial fluid also delivers much-needed nutrients and oxygen to cartilage. Yoga can aid in this by circulating synovial fluid to the joints, promoting joint health.
Yoga improves balance
Core training is crucial for improving strength, and balance has a huge part to play in your core strength. Balancing poses in yoga can help to build that deep core strength, as well as improving your coordination and stamina. All of this combined will improve your movement efficiency and allow you to work through your strength workouts with more and more ease.
Yoga improves breathing
Lifting weights, we might not focus on our breathing skills - but it can make a huge difference in the success of your workout. Yoga helps to improve your breath efficiency, allowing you to take deeper breaths, through your nose. This focus on your breath will eventually train you to use your full lung capacity. Deeper breaths and using all of your lungs will help to push yourself that little bit harder in your workouts, improving your strength and endurance.
Increasing your drive
If you want to lift heavier and push yourself harder in your workout, yoga can be a great way to increase your strength and improve your performance in strength training. Yoga can help to activate muscles that you’re not using in your regular workouts, as well as improving your flexibility and range of motion. These things can help to boost your drive in your workout, letting you improve your strength.
If you’re now on board and are looking to improve your strength with yoga, there are also a few ways to make your practice more effective for developing muscle strength.
Holding poses for longer, for example, will push your body more and allow you to get more out of each pose. You will start to feel that burn, and if your muscles start to shake or wobble - this means you’re working on increasing your strength! However, make sure you’re not causing your body any pain, especially in the back or knees.
Repeating poses can also add some extra strength work to your practice. Once you've decided what muscle groups to work on, you can select the poses that work on these muscles, and repeat them a few times to boost your workout.
For an extra boost, add weights to some yoga poses. While yoga is a bodyweight workout, you can always increase that weight to increase your strength. Ankle weights are great for this, but you can also add hand weights to poses to improve your arm strength.
Power yoga is also an extremely powerful way to get some strength training in. Ashtanga yoga, is also a more intense workout, with harder poses that move quickly. It’s like a cardio workout that also pushes your muscles to work harder.
By Amy Cavill
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