Yoga is one of those things that you likely keep hearing you should do, but don’t really want to.
I’ll be the first to admit that it never really appealed to me. I thought it was a complete joke and that only women did it because they didn’t want to do a real workout.
Then I tried yoga for the first time. What a humbling experience that was.
I was shocked at how much I was sweating and how much pain I was in. Granted, I had probably jumped into a yoga workout that was too advanced for a noobie.
That was back in college, about 4 years ago. I did it a few times, but didn’t stick with it. I could make up some excuses for why I didn’t stick with it, but the truth is that I didn’t desire the benefits enough to fight through the pain.
It’s funny how our priorities can change in such a short amount of time.
I no longer have the body that can handle drinking until 4 in the morning (not that I want to do that anymore) and waking up the next day bright and early like nothing ever happened.
I also no longer have the body that can hit the weights hard – week in and week out – without stretching, foam rolling, and getting 6-8 hours of sleep.
Which is why I decided to give yoga another chance. I’ve found it to be easier this time around, because I’ve been doing mobility work for the last year or so.
At this point we all know that yoga is good for us. So I’m going to focus on what you most likely REALLY care about – how yoga can help you build muscle.
(For the record, this is not medical advice. I am not a doctor.)
#1 – Injury Prevention
I feel this is the most important reason to implement yoga into your lifestyle.
When you’re injured, you have to take time off from the gym to heal. That’s time away from making progress and building more muscle.
I thought static stretching was enough to prevent injuries?
Static stretching is great. I stretch after each workout. I’ve found it reduces DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and keeps me from feeling stiff the next day when I get out of bed.
However, the downside to static stretching vs yoga is that you are only stretching 1 muscle group at a time usually. Whereas, with yoga you are stretching the body as a whole.
The mainstream fitness world is moving towards training styles based on performance, rather than aesthetics. One thing we are finding out is that the body works best when it is used as a whole, instead of being compartmentalized.
That’s why full body training programs like 5×5 work so well.
I’m not saying that bodypart splits don’t serve a purpose and that static stretching has no value.
What I’m saying is that the benefits of stretching are amplified with full body yoga poses.
Below are 3 of the most common pains that athletes complain about and some yoga poses to help prevent that pain and injury as well. You’ll want to look up the poses you aren’t familiar with on YouTube to get a good idea of how to perform it safely.
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is very common. A big contributor is the sedentary nature of our lifestyles, since we spend most of our time sitting down. Lower back pain is usually caused by tightness in the hamstrings, believe it or not. The other common cause is from weak abdominal muscles. However, if you follow a good weight lifting routine with compound movements, your abs should be pretty strong.
Here are some good yoga poses that can help prevent lower back pain:
- Thread the Needle (there are 2 different poses that often get called this name, I’m talking about the one where you’re lying on your back)
- Forearm Plank
- Seated Twists
- Seated Forward Bend
It’s not a question of if you will get shoulder pain from lifting weights, it’s a question of when. I could write an entire article on things to do and not to do in the gym regarding shoulder pain, but for now I will leave you with some yoga poses to help prevent shoulder injuries.
- Eagle Pose
- Cow Face Arms
- Reverse Prayer
- Forward Fold with Clasp
These yoga poses are also great for preventing neck pain as well. Between throwing the weights around too hard and looking down at our mobile devices all day long – we put a lot of strain on our necks.
Hip pain is usually caused by high-impact movements. Also, heavy squatting will eventually start to wear on your hips. Here are some yoga poses to help prevent hip injuries:
- Frog Pose
- Pigeon Pose
- Standing Forward Bend
- Hero’s Pose
I’ve had my fair share of shoulder and lower back pain, but fortunately I haven’t had to deal with much hip pain myself. I only experienced this myself when I was experimenting with squatting and sprinting 5x per week, but I’ll save that for another article.
#2 – Increased Mobility and Improved Posture
I’m not one of those guys that says you HAVE to squat and deadlift. However, if you’re young and physically capable of doing so – I think you should.
I squatted some in high school, but I hated it. I never squatted in college. I deadlifted some, but I only squatted in a handful of workouts.
The reason why I avoided these exercises was because they were extremely uncomfortable and I couldn’t use proper form. I made excuses about how I’m tall and have longer limbs. Or how you don’t technically NEED them. But deep down… I really wanted to be able to squat.
Eventually I learned that I was lacking the mobility to perform these exercise correctly.
It took some time, but I slowly corrected my posture and improved my mobility to the point that I could squat and deadlift comfortably.
If you aren’t willing to dedicate some time to mobility work, you will be better off just avoiding squats and deadlifts. Just stick to machines. It’s not the exercises that will injure you – it’s your lack of ability to perform the exercises correctly that will.
Better mobility and posture allow you to perform better in the gym.
That being said, regardless of your goals – mobility is important for maintaining correct posture. This goes beyond the benefits you get in the gym and affects your daily life.
Here are some yoga poses that help improve mobility and posture:
- Low Lunge
- Lizard Pose
- Warrior Pose
- Bound Angle Pose
- Frog Pose
- Cobra Pose
I typically do light warm ups before lifting, and stretch afterwards.
However, on days where I squat or deadlift I always do some stretching to open my hips, loosen my hamstrings, and loosen my lower back first.
That’s what works best for me, you’ll have to do some testing and figure out what works best for you.
#3 – Enhanced Recovery
As much as I love foam rolling and epsom salt baths, yoga takes the cake for helping me recover fastest.
I always feel more refreshed the morning after a day where I do yoga.
As opposed to simply resting, yoga is an active form of recovery. The stretching and relaxing of muscles aids recovery by increasing blood flow (along with oxygen and nutrients) to the muscles and releasing lactic acid that is built up.
Here are some yoga poses to help your body recover and get you back in the gym quicker:
- Downward Facing Dog
- Standing Forward Bend
- Kneeling Lunge Twist with Quad Stretch
- Revolved Triangle
- Cobra Pose
- Child’s Pose
It’s hard to narrow it down, but those are some of my favorites. I typically follow a routine and don’t stick to a handful of poses.
Enhanced recovery is going to ensure you walk into the gym feeling fresh, so you can destroy every workout.
Yoga is not only great for our health, but yoga is great for bodybuilding as well.
You don’t have to go vegan and stop wearing deodorant to enjoy the benefits of yoga. You don’t even have to step foot into a yoga class if you don’t want to.
Just look for a beginner yoga sequence on YouTube and work your way up to more advanced yoga routines.
There are different types of yoga as well. Most of them being more of a meditative style, than a form of physical exercise.
Find what you like best and stick with it.
Until Next Time,
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What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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