If you’re a dedicated runner, tenacious swimmer or an avid gym bunny, you could be forgiven for thinking that yoga is not compatible with your fitness routine.
After all, one of the most common misconceptions about yoga is the idea that it only involves gentle, easy stretching. If that were true, it would hardly be a good addition to an exercise plan. We’re here to bust those myths! Whether you’re doing cardio, aerobic, circuit or static training, there’s a way that yoga can help. Stay tuned to find out how yoga can supercharge your workout.
1. Keeping it flexible
There are loads of different types of yoga aimed at strengthening the body and calming the mind (some might say too many… that’s for another day), but common to most physical yoga disciplines, including Hatha, Vinyasa and Ashtanga, is a focus on flexibility.
The benefits of increased flexibility are manifold. When it comes to exercise, flexibility is key because it allows for the muscles’ full range of motion. Tennis players can have a full serve; golfers a full swing. Flexibility also aids in everyday tasks, like bending and reaching. Not everyone will be able to touch their toes, but everyone can benefit from yoga’s effect on their flexibility.
2. Aerobic fitness
If you choose the right class, yoga can rival any of the cardio components of your current fitness routine for improving aerobic fitness.
Hot Yoga is a great alternative to an hour spent on the cross-trainer or 50 lengths in the pool. A ninety-minute hot yoga class in a studio heated up to 38 degrees centigrade can burn up to 1000 calories. Studies conducted on hot yoga participants have found that the practice also improves single-leg balance, strength and range of motion.
3. Building your headspace
Know that feeling of euphoria after completing a tough workout, or familiar with ‘runner’s high’? In many cases, this endorphin-induced feeling of elation is the reason why people exercise. However, it takes a while to get to that euphoric state and as enjoyable as it is, the runner’s high is a fleeting feeling. If you want to get more out of your workout in terms of your mental health, look no further than yoga. Seriously, why else are we fast becoming a nation of yoga addicts?!
According to yoga teacher and licensed psychotherapist Ashley Turner, yoga can aid emotional and psychological healing. “Yoga is a psychology, the whole practice helps us work with the nature of the mind, the nature of being a human, how emotions live in our bodies, how they affect our behaviour and our minds”. Rather than a temporary high, the yoga high can last much longer, especially when the teacher includes a lovely long Savasana – deep relaxation – at the end of the class. Furthermore, yoga fans will tell you how the practice helps them make a more comprehensive and positive adjustment to their outlook on life, off the mat. The mental and emotional benefits continue and spill out into general life. That might translate as more patience and gratitude towards those around you, less road rage, new found confidence to choose a different career path, or simply more of a glass half full attitude.
4. Don’t take our word for it…
Yoga is practised by a number of world famous athletes, all of whom sing its praises. Stars such as Novak Djokovic (tennis), LeBron James (basketball) and Sachin Tendulkar (cricket) have all used yoga to succeed with the physical and mental demands of professional sport. Check out the remarkable list of world-beating yogis here!
So there you have it. Yoga can make an excellent addition to your fitness routine. Now get out there, try as many styles as you can until you find YOUR yoga. You’ll soon be wondering how you ever contemplated exercising or even living, without yoga.