A regular yoga practice can be used to compliment any exercise routine. Yoga’s physical benefits help to stretch and strengthen the body to help prevent injury during intense exercise. Yoga can be helpful when warming up or cooling down from a workout or used on the days of rest between workouts to keep the body limber and strengthen the bones and joints.
How to Use Yoga to Warm-up For a Workout
Before a workout, it is important to warm up the muscles of the body. When the muscles are cold they are less flexible and more prone to tears or other injuries. A few minutes of yoga to help warm the muscles and get more oxygen and blood flowing through the body will not only help prevent injury, but can also help boost athletic performance.
Yoga poses that heat and warm the muscles are best to do before a workout. Sun salutations help to move blood and oxygen throughout the body, creating heat. Low lunges and crescent pose help to open the hips and fronts of the thighs and wake up the quadriceps and hamstrings. Downward facing dog helps to open both the shoulders and the backs of the legs. Move slowly through poses and breath deeply to get the most benefit.
How to Use Yoga to Cool-down From a Workout
After a workout, the body needs time to rest and cool down. Stretching muscles after a workout helps the muscles cool down gradually and may prevent the body from being sore the next day. Five to ten minutes of stretching out the body with yoga poses can help the body return to is baseline, slowing the heart rate and the breath after the exertion of exercise.
Yoga poses that are cooling to the body and lengthen the muscles are best to practice after a workout. Supta Padangusthasana with a strap on the floor is a great pose to stretch the hamstrings and release tension in the lower back. A simple twist lying on the back helps to release the lower back and the shoulders and gomukhasana arms stretches the muscles of the neck and shoulders.
Using Yoga to Stay Limber on Days Between Workouts
On days when the body is not worked out, the muscles lose some of their elasticity. Stretching and strengthening the body through yoga on days between workouts will help to maintain elasticity and limberness in the muscles. Practicing five to ten sun salutations every day and taking at least one forward fold to lengthen the hamstrings will help keep the body strong and limber.
Yoga poses that are weight bearing are perfect to practice on days between workouts because they strengthen the bones and joints and the muscles surrounding them. Standing poses such as warrior II and tree pose are extremely beneficial for the legs while poses like handstand and headstand are great for the neck, arms and shoulders.