I’m a huge fan of yoga and have been for many years; I first discovered the stretches (or postures) on an obscure TV channel in the UK, I then attended a class at a Buddhist centre (which also then gave me a huge respect for that particular religion) and now I practice at home when I feel the need to relax or to relieve aching muscles. I do a lot of exercise: 2 hour long Pilates classes, spend between 3 and 5 hours in the gym and walk around 20km every single week; I love all of it but nothing leaves me feeling quite so peaceful and at one with the world as yoga. Not only that but the stretches enable me to do as much exercise as I do without succumbing to injury.
Our bodies are amazing, especially in the ways that they try to protect us. A prime example is when we have been working out hard, repetitive exercises which make our muscles tighter and tighter, and our bodies decide to bring in other muscles to help us out. Really kind of them isn’t it? Well, actually, no because if you are using under-trained ‘helper’ muscles you could find that you’ll end up tearing one of them which will leave you in a lot of pain and unable to workout for a while. This is where yoga comes in. Keeping your joints and muscles supple and flexible will offer you protection from injury, allow your muscles to recover more quickly and give you an increased range of movement.
As we get older and our bodies start to get a little stiffer many of us turn to the gym to increase our fitness levels and to keep trim. This is great! Cardio vascular exercises like walking or jogging on a treadmill, using a stair master or an elliptical machine are all great for keeping our hearts and bodies in shape but there’s no point in doing all this if we can’t train 3 weeks out of every 6 because of injury. Yoga, combined with your normal workouts, will enable you to train better and more effectively with the added benefit of making your respiratory system more efficient. The short video below explains how yoga breathing can relax your mind and body allowing you to free yourself to work more dynamically.
By opening posture, yoga significantly increases respiratory capacity; in fact, many have overcome asthma and other respiratory conditions through regular practice. Obviously, this is invaluable to athletes. Yoga has also been proven to dramatically enhance circulation, digestion, and efficiency of motion, which all further improve energy and endurance. [Source]
Whatever forms of exercise you enjoy, whatever sports you like to play, yoga can help both in terms of protecting your body from injury and improving your performance – it’s not just for lycra clad lovelies with long blond hair ;O)