Are you continuously doing the same workout all the time? Day in, day out, the same routine? Sometimes that may get boring, potentially leading to a lack of motivation. Why not change it up? Have you ever considered yoga?
Yoga is a great workout to help improve your flexibility, build strength in your muscles, and help you relax mentally. Even once a week, yoga can provide benefits both mentally and physically. Yoga classes can vary from gentle and accommodating, to challenging and strenuous depending on your physical abilities and personal preference. So while you may be standing in one spot in different positions, you can still break a sweat and burn calories while stretching.
Not only is it great for your physical health but yoga has been shown to help improve your mental health as well. A study by the Harvard School of Medicine showed that yoga is able to modulate stress responses. It reduces the heart rate, eases respiration, and lowers your blood pressure. It can be used as another form of meditation to help you relax and ease stress or anxiety. When you are focused on holding a pose and breathing in an awkward position, it really leaves little time for your mind to wander. Over time, practicing yoga can help your body to deal with stress more effectively.
For weight lifters and cardio enthusiasts, adding at least one yoga session a week into your workout routine may greatly improve performance. To prevent injury, when you begin your workouts, it is recommended to start with some light to moderate stretching to get your body loose. Incorporating certain yoga poses, such as downward dog (stretches out hamstrings, calves and foot arches) is a great stretch for before a run. You can also incorporate some yoga poses after a run as well. Yoga stretches relieve soreness and tension in the hardworking muscles, and can help restore range of motion.
If weight lifting is a large part of your routine, doing a 20-30 min yoga session during the week would be optimal to help improve your performance. Pushing around heavy weights takes a toll on your body, and can leave muscles feeling stiff. Yoga may help to decompress the muscles and loosen everything up. If it is possible to include a yoga session multiple times a week, after weight lifting sessions, it may even help reduce the soreness felt the next day. Not only can yoga help improve your flexibility, but it can also help strengthen your muscles. The standing, balancing, and inversion poses in yoga can help to strengthen your legs, core and upper body, respectively. There are literally thousands of different yoga positions that you can choose to target certain muscle groups just like when weight lifting.
Maybe your schedule is a bit too hectic to add in another 30 minutes to your routine. That is fine, you can still take some of the poses used in these classes and implement them into the warm up or cool down of your regular workout. A few minutes before and after won't slow you down much, and can only help in improving your overall performance and health. It might also be worth considering switching up your workout routine. If you are tired of doing the same running, CrossFit, or weightlifting workouts all the time, a yoga class might be a perfect change of pace. It will surprise your body as you will be using muscles that may not be used in your regular workouts and have you feeling great right after. One of the best things about yoga is that there is no equipment needed. All you need is a level surface, and it can be done anywhere. You can go to a yoga studio or maybe your local gym offers classes, but you can do it right at home as well. Just a quick search online should turn up many different videos and tutorials. Just don’t feel down on yourself when you realize you are not as flexible as you thought you were. Building up flexibility will take time, so do the best as you can, but most poses can be modified when first starting.