Bridging the Gap Between Yoga and Fitness
Contributed by Kimberly Turner E-RYT 500, YACEP
Yoga & Fitness Professional
While we all know how great strength training is for our health and fitness, we might be overlooking some other aspects of our training. Flexibility, mobility, recovery, breathing and meditation/mind work are all things we should also be incorporating into our fitness programming. For these reasons, you should highly consider adding yoga into your training. Not only will it improve all of the areas listed above, it’s also a fantastic stress relief. Let’s dive a little deeper and see why yoga is such a great addition to your training.
Lifting heavy weights is obviously a better way to increase strength gains and build muscle, but you may be surprised to know that yoga will also help build some strength. Yoga is a body weight exercise which means that while you are engaging in each pose, you are supporting the weight of your body. Yoga also mimics the way the body moves naturally which makes it functional exercise.
Increase Range of Motion
When we strength train we tend to shorten and tighten the muscles fibers that are being used. During yoga you flow from pose to pose, this movement increases the mobility of your joints. Some positions are also held in a sustained position which aids in lengthening and stretching the muscles to improve your flexibility.
There are many yoga poses that put the body in a position where you must focus on your core and balance. Single side standing poses, like standing and kneeling lunges or tree pose, require you to focus more on using one side of your body to help you stay upright. When fighting the forces of gravity that are trying to pull you to the ground you are challenging your core muscles which will in turn help you improve your balance.
Reduce Soreness and Risk of Injury
The lengthening action of many yoga poses help to work out any tightness or lactic acid you’ve accumulated in your muscles from strength training. Yoga also helps draw oxygen into your overworked muscles; this makes yoga a fantastic recovery training. Instead of focusing on the larger muscle groups, yoga requires you to use the smaller stabilizing muscles. This allows you to find and eliminate any muscle imbalances and helps you prevent injuries.
Working larger muscles groups can sometimes cause tightness or muscle imbalances on one side of the body over the other. Yoga requires you to evenly work opposing muscle groups while focusing on proper technique and form, this helps to improve posture and body awareness so your body isn’t compensating in anyway and you can avoid chronic pain and tension.
Improve Mental Health and Stress Relief
Yoga teaches you breathing techniques, mind-body awareness, and meditation. These are all great coping skills that you can use to deal with stress. Yoga cultivates feelings of deep inner awareness and brings you into the present moment so that you can deal with situations that arise with the most clarity and peace of mind.
If you have not incorporated yoga into your training programming yet, give it a shot. You may find that it’s a great complement to your fitness training. You’ll notice almost immediately that you feel better mentally and physically. If you don’t know where to start, JKFITNESS offers private and small group yoga training. Your session will be completely tailored to your body and it’s needs. Give us a call to find out more information!