yoga. n. that class bendy people take wearing really tight pants. sort of. but there's a heckofa lot more to it than that.
regardless of how tight you like your trousers, yoga is good for you. yes, YOU. and here's why:
1. yoga is a great form of active recovery.
it allows you to encourage movement on your non-lifting days without compromising your rest. you should always feel better leaving yoga than when you walked in…sometimes that can't be said after a muscle crushing strength workout.
2. yoga encourages kinaesthetic awareness.
very few things allow you to connect with your body as much as floating through poses, barefoot and unassisted. yoga forces you to listen to your body, which will only beget stronger lifts at the gym.
3. yoga improves mobility and flexibility.
when was the last time you tried to touch your toes? can you? if not, you've got a major situation going on that your 70 year-old self will wish you had corrected, like, yesterday. it's all about movement efficiency. and that's what's great about practicing yoga - it's not about how much you can lift or what the plates on your bar say…it's about mobilising your body in a way that facilitates longevity of movement.
4. yoga mandates moderation.
"moderation is key", right? you can't give 100% in the gym every day. that's not going to result in anything good. lifting is hard. sprinting is hard. working out in general, is hard. high-intensity work needs to be balanced with lower-intensity training in order for you to be truly well and healthy. slow down. find the balance. take a rest day.
5. yoga encourages belly breathing.
take a deep breath. now look down and take another one. chances are good that your chest rose on the inhale and fell on the exhale. am I right? as we age we worry about "keeping it sucked in" and we lose the art of belly (diaphragmatic) breathing, and expand through our chest as opposed to our abdomen. yoga encourages belly breathing - a healthier way to breathe - and reduces cortisal levels (a belly-fat producing hormone), lessens anxiety and depression, and, encourages pain-free movement and proper body alignment. who knew, right?
6. yoga keeps you humble.
but seriously. have you ever tried balancing on one leg? with your arms in the air? holding that pose for 10 deep [belly] breaths? that's what I thought. in yoga, you can't cheat yourself out of anything. yoga challenges you to appreciate what your body can do while accepting what it can't…currently. It cannot be forced. you have to listen to your body and practice, practice, practice.
7. yoga breeds a non-competitive environment.
now hear me out. some of you read that and thought, "not for me!" I know, I know, you're all, grrrr. hear-me-roar, and that's great! there's a time and a place for a little healthy competition, but yoga encourages an atmosphere of acceptance that eliminates negative comparisons. I strongly believe that if we all accepted that comparison is the thief of joy and practiced self- and body-acceptance, the world would be a better place. that's what I'll say in my Miss American speech anyway…competition can be blinding. yoga centers you on ease of movement and personal progression.
8. yoga makes you strong.
you can deadlift 2x your bodyweight? do a set of unassisted pull-ups like a pro? great. how are you with crow pose? yoga might surprise you by making you stronger as it encourages multi-joint movements and wakes up muscles you might not use on the regular. be functional. be mobile. be strong. be someone who can bench press like the best of them AND hold chaturanga.
If you're looking to try a class - or just looking to further your practice - emPower is starting a yoga class on October 18th. Saturdays at 9am. what better way to start your weekend!? I'll be there. all are welcome! feel free to email me for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eat well. Live well. Be well.