Weather you’re a total yogi, or an avid gym-goer, you may want to seriously think about adding Yoga to your gym routine. Not only are the physical benefits of yoga hard to beat, the physiologic benefits are just as important in attaining success with a healthy mind and body. Did you know that yoga was developed over 5000 years ago in Northern India? The history and meaning of Yoga goes far beyond what could be explained in a simple blog post, so instead, the focus will be on the physical changes that will occur throughout your body as you practice, and how this prepares your mind and body to automatically enhance your workout and tap into your fullest potential.
If your start with taking a look at some simple yoga poses, you begin to uncover the significance behind something that traditionally is thought of as not a workout that will make you break a sweat. Don’t get me wrong – I think that practicing yoga for a competently non-physical benefit is beautiful and something that is appreciated, but there are also so many physical benefits to your body from the practice. The techniques used in yoga actually will make you preform better, since they are strongly dependent on breathing, strength and alignment. For example, all variations of the warrior pose build strength and stamina in your practice. At the same time, you are able to open your hips and strengthen your core and lower body. The reality of it is, weather your viewing yoga as a spiritual practice, as a workout, or a combination of both, this truth is the same;
Yoga let’s us observe and challenge our mind and body at moments when it is uncomfortable.
You know the saying that nothing ever comes from inside your comfort zones? Well that is an entire truth about yoga. Different types of yoga, for example Ying Yoga, the poses are held for substantially longer than 1 breath like what is typically practiced in a yoga flow class at your local gym. When your body is being pushed to hold a pose in a rather uncomfortable position, you are learning to accept the pose, rather than resist it, which creates the optimal level strength gain and endurance, in addition to the mental capacity to overcome difficulties.
By practicing, you are actually reducing stress levels. Yoga trains your counter-stress response system which is named the parasympathetic nervous system. Training this means that your stress hormones, which trigger daily stresses, drop to a lower level and give you a better ability to handle these stresses. If you think about it, pushing your body to be calm in uncomfortable positions, actually increases your ability to do so in other aspects of life, thus dealing with stress like a pro. And, if you’re less stressed, you’ll be able to get a better sleep and preform better.
Similar to if you’ve gotten a good sleep, the benefits of stretching your joints contribute to maximum performance and more importantly, no injuries. By practicing yoga before, after or during your frequent workout routine, you maintain the flexibility that you need to keep a range of motion in your joints. This is important since typical workouts do not include stretching. Especially if you’re looking to get buff or tone your tummy, it’s quite possible that you’ll be working your muscles hard, but maybe neglecting the time you need to stretch them. Without stretching, muscles shorten and become tight, which increases the probability for injury, being that your joints could be strained or damaged. The benefits of yoga, are that you can actually still tone your body while stretching it. An example of this is preforming a plank. Typically a plank is preformed in a flow, and therefore you are transitioning between downward dog, forward fold, cobra, etc. so you are stretching different areas, and strengthening while you’re in the poses at the same time.
While you’re in a flow, you naturally become more aware of your breathing since the flow is typically in the length of your breaths. When you inhale, you stretch the pose that you’re in, and typically an exhale and simultaneously transition to another pose. Patricia Gerbarg, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College states to ” inhale through your nose, then open your mouth and exhale slowly, making a “HA” sound. Try this a few times, then close your mouth, keeping the back of your throat in the same shape you used to make the “HA,” as you exhale through the nose.” This is typical Ujjayi Pranayama breathing that brings extreme consciousness to your breath and with practice, will reduce stress and increase your endurance, among many other benefits. If you can control your breath while you’re working out, your ability to take on cardio will increase, your ability to be okay with uncomfortable situations in your workout, like for example – jump squats, will drastically improve. Many professional athletes will swear by breathing techniques to reach optimal potential, and it’s something that is a simple technique that yields incomparable results.
With the expansion of your breathing, flexibility, endurance and stress levels improves while doing yoga, you invite the possibility to let the spiritual side of yoga change your life. There is no doubt that the yoga community is growing and thriving. Millions of people around the world are hooked on the physiological and physical benefits of yoga. It’s possible that if you add yoga into your daily workout routine, you may become appreciative for the practice and want to learn more. This is a huge benefit, because as mentioned, there is a long and important history and meaning behind yoga. To each is to their own – and each yogi has their own motivations to explore, and their own deepness as what they’ll explore to. But, when practicing yoga, even if it is just for the physical aspects to it, it awakens muscles, thought patterns and feelings that are surely proven to aid in elevated mind and body awareness. When you take a look at a gym machine, for example, you can see all of the different muscles you can work and stretch on that machine. You instantly see the end goal, and this gives you motivation to continue the workout and be able to stick to a routine. With yoga, this is possible too, but the contrary is also possible, which is the more interesting side. When you look at yoga as a practice to expand your knowledge and accept the physiological and physical benefit from it, you invite a lot of opportunities into your life.
So, if you’re not sure about trying it, a good place to start is to implement it as a stretching recovery from your workout. This way you’re be taking care of your muscles, and expanding into exploring more benefits. You can even download a quick yoga flow on your phone and use the SlimClip Case to #clipandgo, so you’re yoga moves are always with you and you can experience all the benefits from the practice🙂
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