Changing the body’s abilities and its appearance are two common reasons for starting or ramping up a fitness routine; improving health and feeling better are also common catalysts.
Whatever your motivation, it’s likely you’ve chosen a pursuit for a particular reason. You run because you enjoy how you feel during and after, or you lift weights because you enjoy bodybuilding, or competing.
Even if you’re heavily invested in one activity, however, you’re probably aware of the benefits of cross training.
Runners need strength. Weight lifters need endurance.
And everyone needs flexibility.
The popularity of yoga during the last few decades has often gone hand in glove with an emphasis on mindfulness, and with good reason; it offers a complement to meditative contemplation that’s valuable. But equally impressive is its contribution to function, as demonstrated in at least one study involving college athletes.
Ten weeks of yoga resulted in significant improvements in flexibility and balance in a group of athletes who engaged in bi-weekly yoga sessions. (No changes were seen in the control group, who did not take part in yoga). Knees, shoulders, hips, and ankles all exhibited greater flexibility, and it doesn’t take a scientist to put together that these improvements could mean significant protection from injury.
Other benefits of yoga that may be of particular interest to weight lifters include a delay in the onset of muscle soreness, increased muscle torque, and an increase in hand grip strength. Runners looking for pluses might enjoy the added strength that yoga can provide as well as the fact that it also enhances cardiovascular performance.
The mental advantages that yoga bestows can also add to the enjoyment of your primary fitness pursuit by improving motivation; it’s been proven to pump that up, as well as reduce depression and anxiety, probably through the connection of deep breathing and intense postures.
If your training is going well, consider keeping it rolling with the addition of yoga for flexibility.
Not only is flexibility a good thing for your mind and all of life’s experience curveballs, it’s a plus in the gym or on the track, as well.