Mobility and flexibility can help any athlete in any sport. Whether it's improving your range of motion at the gym, strengthening your shoulders and core or aiding recovery, Yoga has a range of benefits that are often overlooked when it comes to getting fitter and stronger.
What Is Yoga?
Originating in India and developing into the numerous forms that you see today, Yoga is a practice of both the mind and the body that can help you de-stress, provide a cardio workout, tone your muscles and improve your flexibility.
Yoga can be practised on Yoga mats or blocks as both are utilised in different styles and poses across the 'Yoga Spectrum'.
All forms of Yoga involve a strong focus on your breathing. Giving your brain a slow breathing rhythm to follow can take your mind off of the stresses of everyday life as you move your body in time with your breath.
By breathing slowly, we send a signal to our brains that "everything is okay" compared to when we are under a lot of stress and the sympathetic branch of our Autonomic Nervous System speeds up our breathing.
Enhance Your Flexibility
Have you ever had stiff joints when moving? Tried to touch your toes? Or even gone to lift up something heavy off the ground only to find it's beyond your range of motion? By practising dynamic yoga poses just twice a week for around 20 minutes, you can improve your mobility.
Lifting weights in the gym is a great way to gain size, but putting on large amounts of muscle can reduce your mobility. Yoga is a great practice for any gym-goer as it allows your body to stretch out any kinks that were developed during training, helping you still be able to move at the size you want.
Also, by increasing your range of motion, you can complete exercises in the gym across a fuller capacity when completing movements to get the extra stretch in the muscle you might not have realised it needed.
Improve Your Sleep
Sleep is vital for recovery, as when we exercise we are only providing our bodies with the potential to grow. It is when we are tucked up in bed that a potion of physiological changes occurs, allowing our bodies to grow bigger and stronger than before.
Yoga isn't just great for flexibility and stress relief, it can also help us sleep. A review published in the International Journal of Yoga found that Yoga had a positive effect on sleep and general cognitive functioning.
Do You Have To Be Flexible To Practice Yoga?
This question is the same as asking "do you have to be strong to lift weights?" Yoga is designed to increase flexibility and mobility. Therefore it is available to anyone and everyone with the means to practice it.
You don't have to skip the gym to practice yoga. If you're resting on Sundays, practising Yoga is a great way to stay active and improve your recovery at the same time. It also does not require you to take a lot of time out of your day.
Yoga can benefit everyone who practices it with a range of benefits both in and out of the gym as well as enhancing the playability of countless other sports through increased range of motion. It may seem easy, but if it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you so while it can be difficult at first, every workout you perform gets you that extra bit closer to your goal.
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