An ancient relaxation technique, yoga has become very widespread and ubiquitous. There are people today who still believe that yoga is reserved for those on a spiritual quest, while the majority of fitness centers and studios are incorporating yoga into their everyday curriculum.
Yoga can actually be a very important part of your training. In combination with weightlifting methods, yoga is an additional way to increase endurance and strength, improve complete body posture, and achieve balance and flexibility. It helps maximize physical performance, while the meditative side of yoga contributes to your inner stability and mental balance.
For all the weightlifters out there — yoga is a great way for achieving positive transformation, both mental and physical. This is how yoga could affect your weightlifting routine.
1. Flexibility and Mobility
Have you ever heard of agonist and antagonist group of muscles? Agonist muscles are those that cause a certain movement, while antagonist muscles oppose it by controlling and slowing it down, returning the limb to its initial position.
Proper coordination and flexibility of these muscles is important for strength increase, and having weak antagonist muscles will limit your flexibility and speed of movement. If you pump your muscles mostly on the bench, you’ll notice that it is harder to do pull ups. It means that your lats (muscles in the back, posterior to the arm) and chest are “fighting” against each other during the pull up movement.
The antagonist muscles are then not flexible enough, so practicing short yoga sessions for better flexibility and mobility will improve the communication between your brain and muscles, making sure that the muscles are not competing against each other during weightlifting.
Because of their musculature, weight lifters cannot achieve the flexibility of a yogi, but of an average person, which is enough for proper body and muscle development.
2. Increase Connectedness
There is a constant flow of nerve signals between our brain and muscles, enabling the simplest body movements according to our will. Yoga improves the level of interpretation and responsiveness to these nerve signals, leading to more fluid body motions, better reflexes, and faster adjustments to unexpected and sudden situations.
Incorporating deadlifts with yoga, for example, would strengthen your thighs and back, decreasing the risk of injury, even in simple actions like bending down to pick up something, or to tie your footwear.
3. Muscle Recovery
Did you know that your muscles don’t actually grow and develop during training, but afterwards? Weightlifting is a hard physical activity, so your muscles need to go through an after-workout process of rehabilitation, and that is the time when your muscles grow.
Yoga is perfect for relaxing the body and it assists with your post-workout recovery. Restorative yoga includes poses that are slow, easy, mellow, and relaxing, especially for a weightlifter's arms, shoulders, and back. The poses are easy and slow because you don’t want to strain your body further, but to relax it. Otherwise, injuring yourself is inevitable.
4. Aggression Control
For a powerful weight training, one must have a good protein and carb intake. That, in combination with getting psyched up before each workout, leads to higher levels of testosterone.
According to a 1991 publication, “The Influence of Testosterone on Human Aggression”, the link between testosterone and aggression is evident, and higher testosterone levels were found in groups of adults selected for high levels of aggressiveness.
By achieving mental stability and mastering proper breathing techniques through yoga, you will notice how relaxed you feel during the weightlift training, as well as at the end.
5. Yogi Nutrition with Weight Lifting
Besides protein-packed foods you consume for powerful, weightlifting workouts, yogic nutrition could also be beneficial for you in many ways.
Yogi-diet recommends eating alkaline foods which reduce acidity in the body, improving the blood circulation and strengthening the heart. Cut down on processed sugars (unnecessary extra carbs) and add herbs like ashwaganda, boswellia, coriander, and ginger to your diet. These herbs have immune-boosting, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. They are great natural pain remedies, do well for your respiratory system, boost your memory, and improves brain functioning.
An essential part of a yogi diet are good fats, which is one of three main energy sources (besides proteins and carbohydrates). Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids are easy to digest and provide extra energy for going through your weightlifting program.
Think about adding yoga as a pre- and post-workout exercise. It perfectly complements weightlifting routines by making you more flexible, calmer, balanced, and more physically and mentally stable. It improves your body and mind health, increases endurance, reduces that annoying delayed onset muscle soreness, helps greatly in muscle recovery, and also makes you a fast-thinker.