Yoga is everywhere at the moment. It’s the exercise of choice for every Instagram influencer under the sun (and their dog). While it might seem like just another fitness fad, yoga actually has a long and rich history. It’s about so much more than posing on a mat with your morning cup of matcha tea. Done in the morning, Yoga is a great way to wake up your body and prepare your mind for the day ahead. In the evening, it can be a great way to wind down and take stock of the day. You probably shouldn’t rely on yoga alone for your entire workout, but it can be an excellent addition to your fitness routine for the following reasons…
If you’ve ever seen a true yogi perform a headstand or a crane pose (look them up) you’ll see how incredibly strong yoga can make the body. Rather than doing multiple reps at the gym with heavy weights, yoga uses your own body weight and gravity to train your muscles. When holding a yoga pose, you should push yourself, but not to the point where you are uncomfortable.
The verdict is in, and sitting down is officially terrible for us. The human body was meant to move and be active, so sitting on a chair all day staring at a screen is not in our biological structure. Yoga can help to reverse some of the damage done by sitting in a chair all day by retraining the muscles in our legs, back and neck to be flexible and lean again. Your running form can suffer if you don’t focus on fixing the problems caused by sitting in a chair all day. This, in turn, can lead to easily avoidable injuries.
Almost all forms of exercise require you to learn how to breathe effectively. From running to swimming, you won’t get far if your breathing is undisciplined. A huge part of yoga practice is learning to breathe deeply and be aware of your breath. This learning can be passed on into other aspects of your training and allows you to be more efficient with your breath. Always remember to breathe when doing each yoga pose. If you find you are holding your breath, dial back the effort until you can breathe comfortably.
There are many athletes who may look like they are in peak physical shape but they can’t even touch their toes. Flexibility is essential to building a strong and lean physique. Many sports professionals turn to yoga to help them with their flexibility, from mountain climbers to professional football players.
If you want to train regularly, you need to take care of your body and make sure you don’t injure yourself. Yoga is a great addition to your workout routine as it’s something you can do on your rest day that will keep you active without being too taxing on your body. An inflexible athlete is more likely to get injured, so working on your flexibility is the perfect way to help avoid this. If you are returning from an injury, yoga can offer the perfect low impact way to build up your strength and stamina. Provided you follow your doctor’s advice and don’t push yourself too hard, yoga can be the ideal rehabilitation tool.
Yoga is often most effective when used alongside high-intensity workouts from the other end of the workout spectrum. For example, following a boxing workout with some yoga poses is a great way to cool down. Rather than abruptly stopping your workout, move into a gentle flow of yoga poses while your heart rate comes down. Grab a foam roller and work in some myofascial release stretches to help reduce your recovery time. The result? You’ll be able to train more often with less pain.
You might think you have impeccable balance, but this balance is often based on visual cues. Yoga teaches you to balance, even when the world around you might be topsy turvy. How does this help an athlete? If you play sports like football or basketball, you will need to be able to balance on the move when you have no visual cues. You also need to be able to retain your hand-eye coordination without relying on visual cues. Yoga can help improve balance and make you a better athlete.
Core exercises are often neglected in most fitness routines. People usually focus on upper or lower body. What they don’t realise is that the core is the sole source of communication between the two. You need a strong core in every sport and many of the poses found in yoga focus on building a strong core in a gentle way. Core strength also keeps your back and neck health which can help you to stand taller and carry yourself with more confidence.
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