Everyone can learn from every different type of fitness. Yoga is not the exception. Here’s everything you need to know about yoga and the best moves you have to test out today!
Being healthy and taking care of your body is in right now. There are more sites, blogs, photos and posts about how to take care of your body in any way imaginable than at any point in history.
There is one thing that, while gaining popularity quickly, isn’t yet on everybody’s radar: Yoga.
Yoga has been around for centuries and, with the recent celebration of one of the most famous yoga teachers, B.K.S. Iyengar’s, birthday, it should be on everyone’s mind. Most people don’t count yoga as real exercise, but it is. Even some of the biggest names in sports have started to use it and so should you.
It’s a fun, simple and cheap way to move your body and bring your heart rate up, while also helping you protect your body from injuries. And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
How Yoga Poses Help Your Workouts
Along with regular exercise, yoga can help your body fat go down while boosting the strength of your muscles and lung capacity. Even if you aren’t having any problems with losing weight, yoga will help you build muscle so that when you do go to the gym you will feel a difference in the way your body reacts to lifting.
After working out for an hour or more, your body needs to calm down without completely stopping. While it may feel good to sit and gulp water after sweating constantly, our bodies don’t agree.
Adding yoga to the end of a workout will help elongate muscles and rid them of lactic acid so that when you get back into it the next day, you don’t have soreness from previous workouts.
The gym can wreak havoc on your body, but yoga is there to help your heart and your breathing slow down. Because of the steady pace and deep breathing, yoga allows your body to open up the airways so that your lungs can take in more air. This is especially beneficial if you lose your breath quickly, or have any respiratory problems in your past. Even your circulation will get better since your muscles are stronger.
Being in the gym and lifting weights is good for your body, but doing it the correct way is the most important part. Even a slight difference in stance can make an exercise help or hurt more. By doing yoga, you will help your posture in a natural way. Standing, sitting and lifting weights will be better and easier with the help of yoga.
Take before and after pictures of yourself, one when you start yoga and another after a month of doing it. This will help you see the progress you’ve made. Yoga will not only help you excel in the gym, it will offer a relax day for you to skip the gym and stay at home.
Time To Drop Pre-Conceived Notions
It’s true: Yoga is a cheap way to take care of your body. You won’t need any equipment, a towel will do fine. Working out makes you feel happier thanks to the release of sweat and endorphins. Yoga does the same thing and different moves can create different affects in your body. Eventually, with long enough practice, yoga can help you feel calm and collected.
In the beginning, the moves will be difficult and might even seem impossible. But, the payoff comes with time and practice. Even a regular gym-goer might find the practice of yoga hard, but that’s only because of the constant focus and breathing it takes to be fully engrossed in the move.
A lot of people might not want to add more work to an already exhausting workout, however yoga isn’t like that. Even just warming up before an exercise or cooling down after one for only a few minutes will help. Yoga adds to your focus during your workout.
You will even notice a difference in your sleep. Savasana is a very relaxing pose that most yogis do at the end of a long, intense workout. You lie on your back in complete silence, eyes closed and body relaxed. This pose alone will promote healthy sleep.
In the end, exercise is the best way to help our bodies. Yoga might still be an outlier in the workout world, but for many it’s quickly becoming one of the best ways to sweat and get healthy. Anyone at any age can do yoga. It’s helpful for back pain, as a way to lose weight or even to just try and live a healthier lifestyle.
Even Athletes Are Using Yoga Now
For centuries, men and women across the world have practiced yoga, enjoying the relaxation, flexibility and fitness aspects offered. Many athletes also practice yoga in hopes of improving their game and helping avoid injuries.
NBA star LeBron James and NFL star Patrick Peterson are two of the many athletes who’ve made yoga a regular part of their lives. The Seattle Seahawks even used yoga as mandatory training during their Super Bowl XLVIII season. Of course, some poses are better than others. But, to enjoy the greatest yoga advantages, it’s essential that you understand the athlete recommended yoga poses. Let’s take a look at some of the pro recommendations.
This one works wonders for those who sit frequently and who may hunch over more than they should. When you regularly sit in such a position, your chest muscles and hip flexor both tighten, which cause limitation of the shoulder and the hip. The backbend allows your body to extend, stretching those muscles while also strengthening the back considerably.
Numerous backbends can be performed during yoga poses, including the wheel, half locust, bridge, standing backbends and the camel. The backbend may take a bit of time to successfully complete, but remember that practice makes perfect!
To do a backbend, lie on a mat with both hands at your sides and your face to the floor. Make sure that your palms are facing upward. Exhale and lift your lower legs. Extend them and reach back with your hands to grab your ankles. Lift your thighs from the floor as you tighten your butt. Your tailbone should remain toward the floor. Keep your muscles relaxed and hold the position for 30 seconds.
Anyone with bad posture will really benefit from the bridge pose. This pose works to strengthen your back muscles and help the muscles that surround the spine. It also helps people with rounded shoulders. The bridge is fairly easy to do, but may require a few tries before you actually achieve it.
First, lie on your back. Bend your knees, placing your feet on the floor, flat and in front. Your heels should be near your butt. Next, put your arms and feet on the floor as you raise your pelvis from the floor. Exhale to make this easier. Your hands should be placed underneath you on the ground. You should keep your feet parallel and hold the position for up to one minute at a time.
The cobra yoga pose is great for athletes who squat and lift weights. It stretches your spine wonderfully and aids in injury prevention. It is also fairly simple to do, so even newbies will have good luck with the pose.
To perform the cobra, lie down with your legs straight behind you and with the top of your feet against the floor. Your hands should be underneath your shoulders. Your elbows should be as close to your sides as possible. At this point, you should inhale as you push your hands to straighten your arms. Lift your chest off the ground and keep both your feet and thighs on the ground. Be sure not to let your shoulders move up; keep them down. You should hold this position for about 30 seconds before releasing.
#4 Dolphin Pose
The dolphin pose reduces issues with mobility, working the entire body, stretching the shoulders and upper back, the arches of the feet, the calves and the hamstrings and many other areas. But the dolphin pose, like many of the other yoga poses listed here, provides many added benefits as well. These include strengthening of your arms and legs and even aiding in digestion.
Begin by getting on your hands and knees. Next put your forearms on the ground, making sure that you keep your shoulders above your wrists. Then, press your palms together with your toes curled underneath you. Lift your knees away from the floor. Keep your knees bent slightly to make this easier. You should also try to extend the length of your tailbone by raising your hips to the ceiling. You should hold the position for at least 30 seconds. Try to hold it for as long as one minute.
#5 Hindu Squats
The Hindu squat helps increase mobility and strength in your feet, knees and ankles. The connective tissues surrounding these areas will also benefit from this pose. Athletes will find this an excellent warm-up pose before participating in lower body exercises.
This pose is done by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Your hands should be clasped in front of you, hips bent and knees lowered as if you were doing a traditional squat. You should lower your body until your butt is touching your ankles with your elbows in front of your knees. You should do 5 to 10 reps of this pose prior to your lower body workout.
#6 Low Lunge Crescent Pose
For athletes who are strapped for time, the low lunge crescent pole has you covered. It works a number of different muscle groups, including the core and the upper and lower body. The pose is safe to do and doesn’t take a great deal of time to master.
To do this pose, you should first perform the lunge. To do this, step up with your right foot with your knees above the heel and the other leg behind you. Your other knee should drop to the ground and slide back until you feel your muscle stretch. Be sure that you are firmly pressing against the floor and inhale as you sweep your arms to the side. Hold this position for one minute. Rotate between sides.
#7 Pigeon Pose
The pigeon pose is one of the tougher yoga poses, but it is worth mastering. This pose is effective at improving your mobility and strengthening your muscles. It is particularly effective for your butt and hip area. For athletes, the half pigeon pose is best, although the reclining pigeon pose is also effective and less strenuous on your knees.
You can do the half pigeon pose by getting on all fours. Place your hands in front of your shoulders. Your right knee should face your right wrist. Your shin should be perpendicular to your torso. Then, place your left leg underneath you until your left thigh is down on the floors and your right toes are pointing behind you. Hold the position for a few seconds, then exhale and lower your torso as you stretch your arms forward. Then, you should release the post and repeat with the other leg.
#8 Reclined Easy Twist
This is a great yoga pose that you can use both before your workout and after. This pose provides enormous support to the neck and helps reduce tension in your back and neck. But that’s not all. As you perform this pose regularly, you’ll notice that your torso receives a great stretch and that you’re more calm and relaxed.
To perform this pose, lie down on your yoga mat. Bend your knees, but keep your feet on the floor. You should bring your knees to your chest and exhale as you lower them to one side of your body. Keep your shoulders on the other side of your body and lower your legs. Do this pose for about one minute and then bring your knees back to your chest, reversing sides.
#9 Supported Backbends
One backbend pose has already made this list. So it should come as no surprise that the supported backbend also makes this list. In this pose, you are stretching all of those tight spots in your body, allowing yourself to relax more and recover faster.
To perform this backbend, lie down on the floor with your back to the ground and both arms to your sides. Roll your body as you hold your legs. Pull your arm to the opposite side, over your head. As you do this, extend the opposite leg. You should hold this pose for about 30 seconds and then reverse sides.
Yoga is the most accessible type of exercise and can be done on carpet, grass or just about anywhere. If you’ve never thought of yoga being beneficial to you, think again. Follow in the path of some of the best athletes today, and add this to your exercise regimen. You’ll find it helps your regular workouts and almost everything else you do on a daily basis.
By Becky Bickel