What is Yoga?
Yoga is an old discipline from India, it has changed a lot over time. Practitioners and followers of the original yoga traditions focused on “expanding spiritual energy using breathing methods and mental focus”.
The tradition began to gain popularity in the west at the end of the 19th century, modern Yoga focuses on stretches and poses designed to stimulate inner peace and physical energy. It has proven benefits for all aspects of life your Mind, Body & Soul.
“How to master the mind, control the emotions, and grow spiritually” - The Yoga Sutra
Many of the poses target three major muscle groups where most people lack flexibility; Hamstrings, Hips and Shoulders. By stretching and releasing tension in these areas, you can increase chance of being relieved from back and neck pain.
As you increase the health of your back by building strength, increasing flexibility and improving alignment, the health of your entire body will benefit. Creating an all over body strength.
As you practice yoga you notice where your body holds tension, just simply tuning in may help to release some of this tension. Other areas may take a little longer to release.
Regular yoga practice increases proprioception and balance. This contributes to fewer falls the older we get and can also assist in many sports such as climbing, biking and trail running.
Increases Blood Flow
Yoga gets the blood flowing, the relaxation exercises you learn in yoga can help circulation & gets oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result.
An important component of yoga is focusing on the present. Regular yoga improves coordination, reaction time and memory.
HOW DOES YOGA BENEFIT ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE…?
Yoga routines incorporate slow, steady, flexibility exercise that is ideal for athletes. I believe it is the perfect cross-training method for most of my clients, our members of Whistler Creek Athletic Club and athletes of all sports.
Develop Deep, Relaxed Breathing
This is the foundation of reducing performance anxiety and improving concentration.
Increase Core Strength
Slow, focused movements require a strong midsection. Yoga adds a new form of resistance training to your typical gym-based work outs.
Increase Flexibility & Range of Motion
Frequent yoga training may increase flexibility and range of motion whilst relieving muscle tension which can help improve performance.
Balance exercises are one of the most effective ways to correct muscle imbalance or body mechanic problems. As with most sports and weight training routines you tend to perform.
Rest & Recovery
Most sports-related injuries are due to muscle imbalances and or over training. Injuries can be prevented with regular stretching of the body and proper breathing techniques. Yoga may provide a great path to recovery while helping you remain active!
HOW DOES YOGA IMPACT YOUR SPORTS/HOBBIES?
Here’s what some of Whistler’s Local Athletes have to say…
“Yoga makes me feel lose and free. When I trail run my stride length is longer and I seem to float over the ground. Yoga also trains my brain to find calm when my body is in the pain cave. Practicing regularly accelerates my recovery and allows me to train harder for longer. Yoga is the oil for my bike chain and the wax for my skis.”
Personal Trainer, Owner of RICHLIFE & Lululemon Ambassador
“Yoga helps me feel supple and light on my feet. Injuries are part of mountain biking, but yoga is a key aspect of my prevention training to keep me going stronger for longer. Flexibility is an overlooked part of training and yoga helps me keep on top of this. Yoga is also great for helping me with breathing techniques, staying calm and keeping my pace over a race day.”
Whistler Creek Athletic Club Member, Mountain Biker & Lululemon Ambassador
“As a climber I demand a lot from my body. Managing overuse injuries was a big challenge for me as climbing became an integral part of my life. Integrating a daily yoga practice has since become a vital component of my lifestyle. It helps me to increase mobility and maintain balance in my body and mind. Not only does it keep me on the wall doing what I love but it has a dramatically positive impact on my overall health!”
Former Whistler Creek Athletic Club Member & Squamish Rock Climber
I think we can safely say there is a place in everyone’s life for Yoga. However, it is also important to realize that there are more ways to improve our overall health and or athletic performance. Gym-based exercise alongside Yoga is an excellent combination, ensuring you are building full body strength and ironing out muscular imbalances.
HOW WILL THE GYM BENEFIT ME AS A YOGI?
Although yoga is great for building natural strength, if you are someone looking to increase muscular hypertrophy (the size of your muscles) or muscular strength, then weight training is the way to go. - This will and can only improve your yoga poses!
If you are performing full-body compound lifts at the gym and lifting weights explosively, for example some kettlebell exercises, you will activate your fast twitch muscle fibres. This helps you develop power and speed.
In yoga, performing slow movements and holding position for a while, you will be working slow-twitch muscle fibres, which build endurance. It is important to maintain balance between both types of muscle fibres!
As discussed above, there is no doubt that yoga is amazing for both your mental and physical health. However, if you want to give your bones and muscles the best fighting chance against loss and damage it is important to cross train.
STRENGTH TRAINING, the key to bone fortification. Lifting weight, doing lunges or squats places a higher load on your skeleton, bone respond by growing stronger!
WHAT ARE THE BEST EXERCISES FOR ME TO DO IN THE GYM?
Swiss Ball Chest Press
Standing Stalk Back Row
Overhead Triceps Extension (balance)
Cable Biceps Curl
Dumbbell Reverse Lunges
There are many ways to progress or develop each of these exercises to keep your workouts varied, challenging and to avoid boredom in the gym! By doing slightly different versions of these exercises you will be incorporating different muscle groups into your session, this will ensure you are targeting all the right areas to improve performance!
I would also highly recommend incorporating our TRX suspension trainers into your gym work-out! This is a great way to improve full-body strength and can be beneficial for both beginners and more advanced yogis.