Everyone has their own favourite fitness routine and doing what we love working towards our own goals is the key! Every form of exercise has its benefits and they all support each other so I thought I would do a brief breakdown of how everything works so well together for our bodies and minds.
An exercise routine of solely weights can have a negative impact on posture, for example competitive crunches in order to strengthen core muscles tightens the connective tissues and compacts the abdominal muscles which can result in an arch in the back therefore misalign the body's posture. However, with a combination of yoga including back bends and poses such as cobra which open and lengthen through the front of the body we can strengthen and protect our body's posture.
Strength training releases endorphins into the body therefore releasing built up stress and helping to control anger and heavy emotions. Yoga is also a mindful exercise which helps release stress from the body – both forms together are a great combination of letting go of tension and stress built up leaving us feeling cool and in control. Yogic breathing also taps into the parasympathetic system and help slow the heart rate. When you can keep your breath calm and steady, you can start to feel in control and grounded.
Mobility + Muscle Release
In general strength training shortens and tightens muscle tissue creating the strength in our bodies, in yoga we focus on encouraging mobility and decompressing these tight areas, reducing the soreness therefore preparing the body for the next round of strength training. Yoga draws oxygen into muscles, helping them perform better and more efficiently.
Strength training has many benefits for our yoga practice. Developing strength in the arms and chest can stabilise our chaturanga and help achieve arm balances. Deadlifts and Squats help strengthen the legs which can reinforce a stronger warrior stance and improved balance. Without this strength our yoga practice may be more passive, the strength we develop in compound movements is crucial for holding our yoga postures and not getting sloppy with our alignment.
Helps To Reduce Injuries
A fitness routine of simply just strength training can cause injury, if only large muscle groups are focused on in compound exercises and smaller stabiliser muscles are ignored it can result in muscular imbalances. These can result in injuries for example dislocations or muscle tears. With a consistent yoga practice, you will be able to balance and strengthen joints and smaller stabilising muscles, which helps prevent injury.
Combining Yoga and other forms of Strength exercises can have significant benefits for exercises such as lunges or any exercises which require standing even for a short period on 1 leg. On the flip side the strength exercises can also be a benefit for our yoga classes as it builds up the strength around the joints which help the stability of our foundations.
Yoga is known for combining breath and movement. The relaxation and body awareness this brings can have a massive positive impact on other forms of cardio / HIIT training so that we can listen to what is right for us and what our level to push to is. There is a time in weightlifting when our bodies want to hold the breath but yoga teaches us that keeping the breath flowing is how our bodies will work strongest.
Both Yoga and Strength Training have their place, but when combined, yoga and strength training offer a fully balanced schedule that essentially doubles up the benefits you receive from your workouts both mentally and physically. Muscle activation will improve in both forms of exercise therefore improving the benefits of each. It's precisely because of the conflicting nature of the practices, that they complement each other so well.