Keeping your workout and fitness regime fresh and interesting can help to ensure that you don’t lose interest and fall out of healthy habits. Variety is the spice of life, after all… One way to achieve this is to incorporate another form of training or exercise into your regular routine that works alongside what you enjoy and are currently doing.
Two practices that compliment each other perfectly are yoga and strength training, although this might come as a shock to some. When it comes to working out, yoga and lifting weights may seem like opposite ends of the spectrum, but in truth they make a match made in heaven. The team from Man Flow Yoga argue that yoga makes you a better lifter, and lifting improves your practice of yoga. Founder of The Studio, Jess, and in-house yoga instructor Sarah both attest to. We also believe that combining these different practices creates a routine that targets every part of the body, mind, and soul, leading to a balanced fitness plan.
We have listed below some of the benefits of a joint yoga and strength training plan. Keep reading to find out how these somewhat different exercise practices can work wonders to your health and wellbeing when used together:
Yoga increases flexibility and range of motion
One of the most well known benefits of practicing yoga is increased flexibility. In studies, improvements in flexibility have been recorded of up to 35% after only 8 weeks of regular yoga practice. This is particularly beneficial for those lifting weights, as weight training has the tendency to tighten muscles. Attending a yoga session after resistance training can help to ease muscle stiffness and soreness, so it is a great way to recover after some heavy lifting.
Yoga can also enhance your weight workouts and boost your performance by increasing your range of motion. A better range of motion means more of the muscles are activated, helping to make your resistance training more effective - think deeper squats!
Resistance training helps build overall strength needed for more challenging yoga asanas/postures
Certain yoga asanas require a good baseline level of strength within the body to be practiced safely. These postures, such as arm balances and inversions, require upper body and core strength which weight training helps to cultivate. For example, the Arnold Press with dumbbells, a common technique used in resistance training, is a fantastic way to strengthen the upper body for Handstand pose (Adho Mukha Vrksasana).
Yoga is a fantastic way to help prevent injury from weight training. This is because of the increased flexibility and range of motion it encourages within the body, as well as keeping the body supple. Yoga is one of the most effective practices for keeping the spine supple through twists, bends and heart/chest openers, as well as elongating and gently lengthening the spine. Increasing suppleness within the body can help to prevent common injury and discomfort that can result from resistance training.
On the flip side, lifting weights can also help to reduce the risk of injury in yoga practice. Some regular yoga practitioners can be hypermobile, where flexibility is so high within the body that the joints, muscles and ligaments can extend beyond their healthy range of motion. Weight training helps to build joint strength and awareness, which can prevent overstretching.
A number of scientific studies have shown that yoga, meditation and other mindfulness practices and techniques reduce stress and anxiety, having a powerful effect on the emotional and physical symptoms of stress. One way that yoga relieves sensations of stress is by regulating the nervous system. When we are stressed, our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is activated. This, combined with stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, cause a series of changes within the body, making us ready to deal with the stressful situation at hand. This is commonly known as our fight or flight mode. Certain yoga poses and breathing techniques (pranayama) activate our Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), bringing us into the ‘rest and digest’ state. When the PNS is activated, our heart rate and blood pressure lower, and the body relaxes. Poses that are great for soothing the nervous system are Child’s Pose (Balasana), Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani) and Crocodile Pose (Makarasana).
Resistance training is also great for releasing stress and anxiety - a study found that regular weight training substantially reduced feelings of anxiety in participants. So, adding weight training to your regular routine if you practice yoga is a fantastic way to calm the body and mind.
If this has inspired you to combine yoga and weight training in your regular workout routine, then we have you covered at The Studio, Bartlow. We have regular weekly group classes, Studio Strong and Studio Conditioning, led by founder Jess, that heavily feature resistance training and techniques. This is alongside our regular group yoga classes with instructor Sarah, covering everything from deep relaxation and stress relief, to detox flows to sweat it out and tone it up. Book your space on any of our classes by visiting our website today, and keep your exercise regime feeling fresh and interesting.
Written by Sarah Loker