Three Benefits of Adding Yoga To Your Workout Plan
In the last three months, I have been lifting heavier than I ever have. I need to eat eight times a day to supplement the speed of my metabolism and keep up with my carb and protein intake. When I lift, I treat it like a yoga practice. By doing this what I have realized is that there are four amazing ways in which my on the mat yoga helps my performance in the weight room.
1. Increase your ability to outperform your mind’s made-up limitations
Yoga is movement meditation. For however long you are practicing your focus is on your breath, maintaining a clear mind without judging your thoughts, all the while moving in and out of poses. It requires a lot of concentration to find a rhythm that works for you. Although, it is not impossible. However, there are days when the chatter is louder than other. It is most likely suggesting you quit, telling you that you’re going to die, and making you feel insecure about your ability to make it through class. This is the same voice that laughs at me and tells me, “Ha! You thought. There’s no way you can squat 145lbs.” But because I have succeeded in getting this voice a million time before, now when I hear it I do the same that I would do in a yoga class. I take a moment to connect with my breath, quite the mind chatter, and flow.
2. Better awareness of form and alignment
Yoga is all about alignment. In fact, in class all of the poses are instructed with alignment cues. For example in chair pose -- your shoulders are externally rotated, your knees are hip distance apart, the weight of your body is in your heels, and you’re dropping your tailbone to release any stress in your lower back. Using your body as a point of reference, deepens your trust with yourself. Over time, with a yoga practice you become extremely aware of your alignment -- on and off the mat -- and this awareness is key when when performing dynamic exercises. My trainer tells me to stray away from relying on mirrors Instead, to look ahead. He suggest that it is better for me feel in my body where I might be shifting to one side or in what areas of my body do things not feel right. This is the same that same reasoning that yoga teachers who teach without use. Incorporating more yoga, will not only help improve your posture, but also make you more easily mindful of your form.
3. Yoga strengthens the heart, releases toxins from muscles, and speeds recovery
Yoga helps to reduce high blood pressure by slowing down the heart rate. This promotes a healthy heart function for you to be able to push through more of your heavy lifting workouts. In yoga teacher training, I learned a lot about what is happening in the body when learning about new poses and their alignments. Poses that require us to twist the body are detoxing poses. Did you know that laying on your back, bringing your knees to your chest, and twisting to one side helps your bowel movement? The twist helps engages your abdominal muscles and the intestinal organs behind it. In 5 Benefits of Yoga for Strength Training and Flexibility, Precor: Fitness made person writes, “Twisting poses are well-known to flush the lymphatic system, wringing out toxins and stimulating glands.” This release of toxins in addition to the increase in flexibility -- the most commonly known benefit of yoga -- will help speed along your recovery.
If you choose to add yoga to your workout plan for a more integrated approach to fitness you will not only witness the physical benefits, but also those attributed to a higher sense of mental clarity. This is because an integrated approach to your fitness goals -- that includes nutrition, adequate stretching, rest and recovery -- will be more beneficial than weight training or cardio alone. More often than not, when one’s fitness regimen is hyper focused on just the physical exertion of energy (the actual workout) they are over taxing the body without giving it the supplement tender love and care that it needs to keep performing.