How Yoga can Complement Your Workout Routine
Whether you exercise for weight loss or for improving your lean muscle mass, any regular physical activity is good for you. Needless to say, if you have a workout plan in place, it helps you stay fit as well as reach specific goals. But did you know that there is more you could do to maximize your results? No—this article is not about a cardio and strength training combination to tweak your exercise. Of course, such variations surely benefit you as they help you stay motivated, prevent boredom, and stimulate different muscle groups. But, if you’re looking to take your efforts to a whole new level, you need supplemental activities like yoga and meditation. Following up your workout routine with a complementary activity benefits your body as well as your brain.
Yoga complements by restoring and rebuilding your body.
Yoga is a great tool that applies the aspects of physical postures, regulated breathing, and mindfulness (meditation). The physical stretching and postures may lead to the perception that yoga is another kind of physical exercise. It is true that there are similarities, but there are fundamental differences, too.
Unlike other physical exercises, yoga focuses on breath regulation, mindfulness, and relaxation, which offers more significant benefits.
A regular yoga practice bestows the following experience:
- Relaxation and calmness
- Lowers anxiety and eliminates mental blocks
- Fosters breath awareness
- Tones your whole body
- Brings flexibility and balance
- Better strength and coordination
- Improves flexibility in the hip and knee joints
Yoga encourages breath awareness and trains you to observe your physical sensations, your thoughts, and the movement of your internal energy. These aspects differentiate yoga from other forms of physical exercises.
Evidence-based reasons to say “yes” to yoga
Lowers the risk of injuries
Yoga practice involves slow movements, posture, and deep breathing, while nurturing balance and strength. It helps to improve blood circulation, flexibility, and lung capacity, all of which may help reduce the risk of injuries like a muscle tear or spasms. Restorative yoga postures help minimize injuries. So, if you are involved in high-intensity training, it may sound a bit slow for you, but the idea here is to restore and rebuild the body to minimize damage.
Reduces pain and muscle soreness
Yoga may be your best remedy for pain and soreness followed by an intense exercise. Yoga postures and accompanying breathing (pranayama) help harmonize your body and initiate a state of relaxation. It brings a change to the neural discharge pattern, which lowers the hyperactivity of the nervous system and relaxes the system.
Helps you sleep better
Research shows that practicing specific yoga postures promotes better sleep quality. Hatha yoga, which emphasizes body position and restorative poses such as lying and sitting postures, focuses on breathing and induces relaxation (and thereby sleep).
Stress creates restlessness with increased heart rate and increased blood pressure. Yoga as part of mind-body practice also integrates meditation and helps you relax. The emphasis on breath regulation and mindfulness during practice helps lower the heart rate and elevated blood pressure, as well as improves blood circulation. When the mind relaxes, the muscles relax, too. It creates a state of calmness in mind and body, which alleviates stress.
Improves mood and cognitive abilities
A 2010 study revealed that when compared to walking, yoga showed a more significant effect on the mood. Researchers identified that yoga practice helped stimulate specific brain areas and increased the secretion of the brain chemical GABA. Similarly, a review of 15 clinical studies on the effect of yoga on brain activity found positive outcomes. Researchers found that there was an increase in gray matter, along with increases in the amygdala and frontal cortex activation. In other words, there was improvement with memory, attention span, decision making, and judgment. So, if you are looking to sharpen your mind, yoga is the way to go!
Here’s one more for the biology enthusiasts!
Combats oxidative stress
Physical activities are known to induce muscle fatigue, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Your body generates unstable molecules called free radicals as part of its daily activity. These unstable molecules are taken care of by the body’s antioxidant defense. However, too many free radicals can overwhelm the body and lead to oxidative stress. Chronic oxidative stress is not good for you, as it triggers several degenerative conditions such as premature aging, arthritis, etc. But you can counteract these adverse effects with yoga! A 2013 study found that practicing yoga (hatha yoga) had therapeutic and protective effects. Patients with increased oxidative stress that practiced yoga showed reduced oxidative stress levels when compared to the group that did not practice yoga.
The above studies indicate that yoga interventions appear to improve workout outcomes. LVAC offers a variety of yoga options that will leave you feeling long, strong, centered, and calm. No matter what activity you do, balance is the key. Yoga as a multifaceted tool helps you achieve this balance and perfectly complements your routine.