I’m in the gym chatting with my fellow weight lifters. Several of us compete, so we talk training as we aim to improve. Form, technique and diet are discussed but often it kind of ends there. Flexibility and relaxation are rarely discussed except for the occasional reference to that fact that you need sleep to build. When I bring up Yoga I often hear something along the lines of “I can’t do Yoga cuz I’m not flexible enough”.
So here are 5 reasons why all weight lifters should do Yoga:
1. You should do Yoga if your flexibility sucks. Yoga isn’t something you have to be good at to pursue. You do it to improve. A decent instructor should be able to give you beginner or modified versions of poses that you find challenging. Additionally, if your flexibility does suck then chances are you hate stretching so you never even do it. A yoga class will give you that time.
2. It will make you STRONGER in the gym! I bet that caught your attention. Your body loves to stay in its comfort zone so we often tend to rely on the mid-range of motion because that’s where we are the strongest. When we get out of that comfort zone and work the extreme ranges, where the muscle is fully stretched and contracted, we actually generate the most growth. Yoga improves those ranges and thus our weight lifting.
3. Studies show that Yoga reduces inflammation and DOMS. I have used Yoga to realign and repair more injuries than I care to admit to. But, let your instructor know before the beginning of class what injury(ies) you are working through because then they can provide guidance.
4. Real men do Yoga. Yes there are usually other men in class.. So ditch the paranoia and get yourself into class. The other people in class are usually too busy trying to do their own thing to worry about what you’re doing anyway. So don’t worry about competing with the people around you. Remember, they don’t hand out medals at the end of class. Just do what’s right for you.
5. I will state for the record that I am not into chanting, new age, hippy-esque Yoga. I go to make myself healthier. But I will say that a good class gives me a state of relaxation that is unreal. It allows you to work through the psychological component of recovery which we often overlook. I stretch my body better, relax more and even sleep better when I do Yoga.
If you are now thinking about giving Yoga a try but don’t know where to start let me give you a couple of pieces of advice.
1.Try a class at your gym. Most of them are free.
2. If you want a calmer, more focused environment then I would suggest going to a studio. Many studios offer beginner deals which allow you to try their classes at a reduced rate.
3. Ask around. Friends often know people who practice Yoga and they may be able to suggest a good studio. But be sure to shop around. Go to different places and find the type of Yoga or instructor that works for you.