Alternative training: Hit the mat

Yoga can help you master the mind-body connection while increasing athleticism and strength

 

YOGA MAY BE A DISCIPLINE that’s more than 5,000 years old, but it’s never been more popular in the U.S. According to the 2016 Yoga in America Study conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, more than 36 million adults practice yoga, up from 20.4 million in 2012. And the number of people ages 18 to 44 taking part has doubled since 2012.

We get that some guys can’t let go of the stereotype that all yogis are peace-loving stick figures. If that were true, UFC brawlers Diego Sanchez and Georges St. Pierre and NFL Pro Bowlers Ndamukong Suh and Russell Wilson wouldn’t waste their time grabbing their blocks. If you’re a weightlifter who has thought about trying yoga but has yet to move into tree pose, noddle on the advice as motivation to reassess yoga’s benefits. Namaste!

CURVE APPEAL Outside of the gym, yoga has been shown to improve sleep quality, reduce food cravings, and bolster spirits.

1. BETTER MENTAL CLARITY Hardcore training leaves you feeling amped up, which can hinder your focus. Yoga’s slow pace and difficult body-weight holds force you to concentrate on balance and breathing. Over time, this can help clear the mind and increase proprioception.

2. IMPROVED FLEXIBILITY A study in the International Journal of Yoga showed that 10 weeks of bi-weekly yoga increased flexibility and balance in college athletes. The isometric holds yield a big benefit. You’re feeding muscles with oxygen and learning to ease into a position, as opposed to using adrenaline to get there.

3. ENHANCED INJURY PREVENTION Muscles can grow faster than their tendons and ligaments, and outlifting weaker tendons can lead to serious injuries. Yoga strengthens and increases the flexibility of deep connective tissues, which helps keep lifters in the gym—and out of slings.

4. HEIGHTENED AWARENESS Yoga teaches you how to engage your muscles more effectively during poses while reinforcing proper breathing techniques. You become in tune with how your body moves during a lift. You’ll have the endurance to get through it.

5. FORCED PATIENCE Unlike in weightlifting, you can’t cheat a yoga pose—you hold it or you don’t. It takes time to master the balance, coordination, and mental clarity required to execute difficult poses. Your patience will be tested as much as your muscles but will also serve you in other facets of life.

SHARE