Sweat Before You Om: Balance Out Gym Training with Yoga
Yoga and strength training don’t go together. This is a well-known myth that poses almost as the ultimate truth. Be prepared that even the most highly respected yoga instructors would advise you against this volatile mix. But don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
A couple of years ago I was truly taken aback when my gym trainer of the day, very slim and muscular, told me her body was so stiff she couldn’t stretch properly, let alone do the splits! Later on, I discovered it was not surprising at all. If you neglect to incorporate weight training with at least some stretching exercises or yoga, you are doomed to lose your flexibility.
Yoga and gym workouts need to be regarded as complimentary rather than incompatible. You can look at your gym training as the way to put on extra muscle, do some serious cardio, improve your reaction. Meanwhile yoga is a great choice if you want to work on your stretching movements, improve balance and mental attitude. After all, it is not so much an exercise as it is a state of mind.
By doing yoga and gym together you instantaneously work both on your strength and flexibility.
Strength training can be really intense. Whereas yoga helps you keep your emotional balance intact which, in its turn, teaches to stay focused and present during your workouts.
Also, in yoga you enable different sets of muscles by doing much slower movements while improving your level of concentration and working on your breathing. Controlled breathing is crucial in everything you do, your gym training included. It allows you to check in with your body more often, acknowledge all body sensations you experience after a workout.
Mindful breathing boosts stamina and increases your endurance. Even when you feel exhausted after your workouts yoga can help you regain energy and at the same time it can help you feel fully relaxed.
And it is not just about yoga and gym trainings, of course. Many sports can mix and match beautifully. It won’t be a bad idea to compliment your running workouts with wushu practices or even pilates! Swimming can be added to any sport and is a good way to improve your lung capacity and address back pains. Not to mention that water rehabilitation is recommended for athletes who suffered severe low back injuries. But it’s a whole other story.