September 8, 2016
It seems that people are just not exercising these days; in fact, around 80% of US citizens, aged 18 and over, don’t meet government recommendations for physical activity. Exercising is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, and as you get older, staying active becomes increasingly important both for your physical and for your mental health. Once you hit 30, your levels of HGH (human growth hormone) start to drop dramatically, and this decline drives your aging process, so maintaining healthy levels also gets increasingly important with age. That being said, choosing the right manner of fitness may be a little bit confusing, and today, we are going to talk about two types that seemingly don’t fit together. However, weightlifting and yoga complement each other perfectly, and by combining the two, you will build muscle and gain flexibility.
There are multiple approaches you can take when combining weightlifting and yoga, but first, we have to talk about basic psychological principles involved in weightlifting. Most people who lift do so for one of two main goals – they want either to gain muscle (fewer repetitions with a heavy weight) or to tone their muscles (many repetitions with less weight). However, regardless of your approach, you have to target specific groups of muscles effectively in each workout session and you have to have a certain resting period that allows your muscles to recover before the next training. While many people undervalue recovery, it is an integral part of every successful workout program. In most cases, your muscle tissue needs somewhere between 24-48 hours to recover and be ready for another bout of loading. Without the right recovery period, you muscles will become stressed, and you will quickly lose strength, which can lead to poor performance and even injuries.
Now, you might be wondering, how does this relate to yoga? Well, all of this depends on your style of yoga. For instance, if you are doing Vinyasa style yoga, it may be difficult to balance your muscle recovery time with an intense weightlifting program. Just imagine doing yoga the day after doing intense chest and shoulder exercises. The fact is, these muscle groups don’t have the capacity to perform the demanding Vinyasa, and so the practice of it may completely “shock” your body. Conversely, if you practice the lighter, Hatha yoga, which places only a small amount of loading on your muscles, yoga could be the perfect restorative for your body.
First, you need to set the right schedule with an emphasis on which muscle groups you wish to target during these workout sessions, and of course, you have to determine the exact method of training (as we have mentioned before, muscle toning or muscle building). After that, establish 24-48 hours of recovery period for every muscle group, and feel free to mix it up a little. For instance, after lighter sessions, rest for a day before the next workout. Next, you have to determine what type of yoga best suits you, and integrate it into the overall program. Just make sure to focus on poses that expand those groups of muscles that have been conditioned with training along with other poses that balance out the rest of your program. Once you’re finished mapping out everything, grab your fitness clothes and start lifting.
The short answer is – yes, you can do it. Most people use yoga to establish a positive tone of thought and action for the day. You could use yoga after a stimulating activity to balance this energy. My advice would be to do your training first and then move into a calming yoga tone right after. You see, after a hard workout session, your entire body stays in an elevated state for a few hours, as the body needs to re-saturate oxygen and flush out lactic acid, and yoga can potentially enhance this state by cooling down your nervous system. Just keep in mind, if you practice yoga later in the day, move into a more gentle flow, because your body is already in a recovery state from the weightlifting.
If you are new to both weightlifting and yoga, you should definitely spend at least a couple of months doing only one, and only after you establish a solid foundation should you incorporate the other into your workout routine. In addition, while many modern fitness instructors recommend it, you should not incorporate weights into your yoga practice, because it will only degrade the integrity of your practice. You should not make your yoga a “workout” and always keep in mind the fundamental purpose of yoga – it is designed to help you master the body and enhance its functions in order to move more readily to the state of self-realization.