I believe in balance. Without balance, stress takes over and you’re pulled in one direction. If you’re pulled too much, well, you might just snap. Working out is great and I love the benefits that I’ve experienced from exercising, but sometimes the strain is a lot.
The idea with working out is that you’re always pushing yourself towards ‘more’ – more reps, lift heavier – more, more, more. And that’s fine, but finding a way to counteract that and reintroduce harmony and appreciation for where you’re already at is a beautiful thing.
That’s where yoga comes in.
Yoga allows you to tune into yourself and to appreciate where you are, in the moment. It doesn’t ask much of you and you can cater it to “find what feels good” – as my favourite yoga instructor Adriene says. Integrating yoga into your fitness routine doesn’t just offer additional benefits, but complimentary ones as well.
Have you tried going to the gym when you aren’t psyched up? It makes it that much harder, at least at first. The best workouts come when you’re motivated and being your own mental cheerleader. Then you actually start the workout and you’re kind of being hard on yourself. It’s a form of aggression, even though it can be a rewarding one.
Yoga, on the other hand, might have all sorts of difficult poses that make you work hard, but it causes delicious relaxation and reduces (or even eliminates) stress. (There’s a well-written article on The Science behind Yoga and Stress here: http://upliftconnect.com/yoga-and-stress/)
When you work out by lifting weights, you’re using your fast-twitch muscle fibers – which help you to become more powerful and quick. Yoga requires you to use slow movements and hold them, which actives your slow-twitch muscle fibers. These fibers contribute to endurance.
It’s beneficial to have a balance between both of these muscle fibers by incorporating both.
Strength training is great for developing muscles, but it does this by tearing them, literally. I personally enjoy the achy/sore day or two after a good workout, but c’mon, it’s obvious that we’re working them hard. While yoga won’t build the same muscle development as working out does, it elongates them while strengthening and improving muscle tone as well.
Power And Flexibility
You’re going to get more bang for your buck with strength training if you’re looking to become strong. But this strength will help you improve your yoga practice as well, and is complimentary to the natural strength that yoga helps build. Yoga also increases your flexibility, which will help with your form and enhance the quality of your workout.
For example, just think about a deadlift. You need to keep a flat back, but the aim is to go as low as possible with almost completely straight legs. It’s going to be very difficult to reach down low if you aren’t flexible.
Work It All Out
The feeling after a good workout is grand. You’re sweaty, proud and feel accomplished. Sometimes I feel like sleeping and other times I experience immense energy. But I’ve never had a workout that leaves me feeling the way that yoga does. The calmness and serenity that comes after a yoga session (no matter the duration) lets me know that my mind is having a wonderful time.
So how can we go about using yoga and strength training together?
Lots of love xx