Yoga has been practised for thousands of years, some researchers believe the origins could be dated back as far as ten thousand years. It first came to the west in the late 1800s and has been steadily growing in popularity ever since and now there are between twenty and thirty thousand yoga classes held weekly in the UK alone. Even though the market has become more saturated, classes are still full so why are people still attracted in their droves to yoga?

Yoga has many benefits including improved strength, balance, flexibility, sleep and sense of wellbeing. This alongside many healthcare providers recommending yoga for a long list of ailments means there are many people wanting to give this ancient practice a go. But is there more to yoga than a gentle, meditative form of exercise that improves your flexibility? I am actually quite inflexible for a yoga teacher. Yes, my ever-tight hamstring flexibility has improved over the 13 years that I have been practising yoga but I still cannot perform the splits and to be honest, that is not my main aim. I love practising yoga that makes me feel strong, that feels good in my body and that compliments my other workouts.

I have tried many a workout craze over the years including Zumba, Bokwa, Clubercise, Totally Shredded, HIIT, Couch to 5k, Body Balance and been a regular gym goer but the one exercise class that I have done throughout all of these is yoga. It has always been there, supporting my other workouts. Helping to build muscle and increase mobility so that I can perform to my full potential in the other domains. So yes, yoga can be your sole workout class but if you love a workout as much as me, yoga can help you to make gains and aid recovery at the same time.

There are many ways that you can incorporate a yoga class into your exercise regime without compromising leg day at the gym. You could simply start by using one of the movement principles from functional range conditioning (FRC), controlled articular rotations (CARs). CARs work the outer limits of your range of motion to stimulate adaptations. Practising CARs for each joint in the body in isolation doesn’t cost you much in time but the payoff can be incredible. Over time you should see improvement in just how much range of motion you have in each joint. There isn’t an instantly visible result with these but if you stick with them daily, practising them under tension, you really will see a transformation in your other disciplines, for example, feeling stronger holding that dumbbell at your fully extended range when completing bicep curls.

If you have a bit more time to dedicate to yoga, you could spend twenty minutes at the start of your workout warming up using yoga principles and asanas. You could practice an isolated cat/cow to prepare the erector spinae for a set of deadlifts. You could work the infraspinatus, teres minor and teres major of the rotator cuff in a garudasana or gomukhasana to mobilise them ready for an overhead or bench press. Using yoga asanas, you can target key, smaller muscles that normally let larger muscles takeover when performing demanding exercises. Strengthening these smaller muscles in isolation will improve your overall performance and means you are not always relying on and putting more pressure than is needed on larger muscle groups.

Once you feel the benefits that yoga can bring to your fitness regime you will soon want to be adding a full class into your schedule. This could be in addition to your regular workouts or if you are short on time, it can replace one of your normal workouts. To give up a workout, you will want to feel like you are working hard, right? This is where the yoga classes at Strength Power Yoga come in. As our name suggests, our workouts are planned to include a sense of feeling strong. Class would include some preparatory work to focus on the breath and build mobility in a targeted group of joints. We would then practise some asanas that work the mobilised muscles before including them in an energetic flow. 

Another way to use yoga to target your specific workout domain is to practise asanas that work the areas you want to focus on. For example, you could work on isolating, mobilising and strengthening the quads if you are a keen runner. Alternatively, you could work the opposing muscle group. So runners could focus on the hamstrings to balance out the hard work the quads go through.

Yoga can support all domains of movement whether we are training with weights every week, running short or long distances or playing tennis. In addition to this, yoga is so beneficial when it comes to living our life to the full every day. It helps to make us strong in everyday life moving our bodies in a better way as we get older. Enabling us to keep the mobility we had when we were younger.

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