From juggling work, social commitments and spending time with loved ones, it’s no wonder that many of us feel stressed and unbalanced.
If you love fitness and working out, a regular yoga practice can help you find physical and emotional balance. From strong and sweaty Vinyasa classes to soothing, restorative Yin, here are five reasons and ways yoga brings balance to your workout regimen.
Yoga will give you longer, leaner muscles.
If a regular part of your workout routine is weight training, you must be all too familiar with “the burn”, where your muscles ache for days afterwards. Weight training relies on the principle of concentric contraction, where the muscle gets smaller as it contracts.
Muscle fibers heal close together, resulting in that “pumped” look. This is great for building strength and increasing muscle size, but in order to have a beautifully balanced and sleek body, you need to stretch out the muscles.
Yoga relies on eccentric contraction, where the muscle stretches as it contracts, giving it a sleek, elongated look, while reducing muscle tightness and fatigue.
Yoga tones both large and small muscles.
Weight training isolates one muscle group at a time, which can result in major muscle groups being overworked through repetitive exercises. In yoga, you use both large and small muscles and move in many directions (twisting, arching etc.), not just back and forth as in the motion of a bicep curl or squat.
You can increase muscle tone and definition — and even muscle size — with yoga, since you are lifting your own body weight, which requires concentration, stamina and strong back, core, arms and legs. Weights and yoga work well together, so try doing a weight-lifting class followed by a yoga class for a beautifully balanced workout.
Yoga is a well-rounded approach.
Think of yoga as a complete multivitamin. It provides strength, flexibility, numerous physical and health benefits, and a deeper mind-body connection.
A regular yoga practice can reduce your risk of injury and condition your body to perform better at things you have to do every day: walk, sit, twist, bend, lift and even climb.
A form of “functional” fitness, yoga moves your body in the ways it was designed to move, to help ensure that it keeps functioning properly, well into your (ahem) old age.
Yoga is empowering.
One way to make yourself feel great is by finding an exercise routine you love and sticking to it. With yoga, you learn much more about your body and its limitations than you could ever learn from running or weights.
That moment when you realise that, after dedication and perseverance, you are completely rocking a headstand. The sense of wellbeing you feel while lying in peaceful, blissful Savasana.
Yoga is empowering, because it’s all about YOU. Your body, your rules, your mind. Start little and often, and you will be amazed at what you can achieve if you roll out your mat regularly.
You will find your own tribe and style.
No matter how motivated you are, workouts can become dull if you constantly go to the same class or run on the treadmill each day. The beauty of yoga is that there are over 21 different styles that you can explore, to find the right ones for you.
With the long days of summer, you might feel more energetic and uplifted, so Vinyasa is the perfect dynamic style to get your heart-rate going. In the cold winter months, Hot Yoga can be an amazing way to warm the body and to aid the detox process.
If you fancy the warm glow of candles, sensuous smells and a deeply relaxing experience, candlelit Restorative yoga can be your new best friend. There is a style to suit everyone!
All you have to do is to grab a friend or go alone, and try as many classes as you can. You will soon find yourself feeling at home in a specific style, or fall in love with them all!