Yoga for the Girl Gone Strong

They say that yoga finds you when the time is right.

For me, it was late October of this past year, just as the holiday season began. 2012 was a dense year of change, hustling and lessons learned. By the end, my tank was running low and I was seeking ways to incorporate self-development via emotional healing (letting go), training variety (less weight training and more calisthenics & body control), meditation (relaxation & finding peace) and expanding my networks (new faces and places).

I also had a newfound interest in the playground / bar workouts and thought yoga could be a great compliment to enhance my efforts through core strength and body awareness. Little did I know, I was about to land on a practice, a studio and a group of people that would truly change my life.

As a fitness professional, I’m highly selective with whom I’d grant my training and body to (as we all should be). Sid McNairy, founder of Sid Yoga, came highly referred and after a little homework and checking out his studio, I found that he and his staff were certainly worthy a try. Many of the instructors at Sid Yoga share elite athletic backgrounds  – some in dance, others in Division I Lacrosse and Football. Their backgrounds coupled with a wealth of knowledge and experience in yoga, plus an inviting, radiant energy, made for a solid fit in my book.

As with anything I want to learn and or become better with, I decided to jump in whole-heartedly. I signed up for an unlimited monthly membership, bought some gear and started showing up to both classes and workshops. I began practicing six times a week participating mostly in 60 or 90 minute hot Power Vinyasa classes. The sweat, the flow and the thoughtful messages laced throughout each class had me hooked fast. Yoga became a place where I looked forward to checking my day at the door. No cell phones, no talking, just listening, moving and cleansing.

First came the spiritual and mental shift, and then came the shifts in my body.

Yoga started to shift my mind. I began mellowing about certain things as I gained perspective in other areas. I looked forward to the daily meditations shared and even bought the book we read out of each day. Between finding peace, a new interest, a new space and new people who I just love to see weekly, yoga has truly boosted my spirit. Last but never least, when we train the mind, the body will follow. Over time, just like progress on the gym floor, I found progress in my yoga practice as well. Little by little, I found relief in my low back (with extension), mobility in my thoracic rotation, flexibility in my shoulders and hamstrings, balance and body awareness in certain movements, a better flow between movements, improved breathing patterns and most exciting, progress with my inversions.

Yoga Benefits for the Girl Gone Strong

In writing this post, I asked Sid for a list of benefits with regards to yoga and my training and running programs. Specifically, how yoga can help assist, compliment or better ones efforts in the gym / running and how yoga helps to counter-balance or offset some things from strength training and or running.

He shared the following with me –> Yoga Benefits via Yoga 4 Sports:

  • Strengthens deep connective tissue preventing or minimizing injury.
  • Creates overall body flexibility. Increases range of motion and mobility.
  • Dramatically enhances physical balance by developing the athletes awareness of his or her body’s center place, thus keeping their body balanced in action, moment by moment, giving the ability to recover from or prevent falls, while enhancing agility and maneuverability.
  • Improves circulation, massages internal organs and glands for optimum health.
  • The yoga breath circulates and detoxifies the lymph fluid to speed up recovery time from training 15% faster, eliminating fatigue.
  • The yoga breath builds up increases one’s life force energy.
  • Enhances sensory acuity, mental focus, concentration, mental clarity, will power, and determination.
  • Dissolves pre competition anxiety and stress. Helps to balance & manage emotions that could cloud focus, concentration & judgment.
  • Trains the athlete get and stay in the mental zone.
  • Quickens mental response time for more effective game play and strategy.
  • When doing yoga as a team it enhances team synergy and team chemistry & telepathy on the playing field.

For more reading on the benefits of Yoga for Athletes, also see “Gain core strength, balance and concentration” by Elizabeth Quinn, About.com Guide

 What’s Next?

 I’ve since reincorporated more traditional strength training back into my routines again, along with running and my beloved conditioning. I found in going back to the squat rack to test my strength ability, while I haven’t performed max efforts in quite some time, I’m still hitting what I consider strong numbers on bench, squat and deadlift. My callisthenic work has improved considerably and above all, my body feels great and my mind even better. I absolutely love having found yoga and those I’ve met along the way.  I will continue to study and practice it for an indefinite amount of time. In fact, beginning January 6th, we have 100 plus people who have signed up to participate in the 40 Day Revolution. I’m looking forward to what I may find through this experience.

Check out Sid Yoga if and when you’re able, along with the book (Journey to the Heart) which we read daily and can be found here on Amazon. I hope the power of yoga finds you, along with a physical and spiritual space to compliment your body, mind and heart.



About the Author: Alli Mckee

Alli is a certified strength and conditioning specialist based out of Baltimore, Maryland. She's contributed to and modeled for a number of major publications including Oxygen magazine and the New Rules of Lifting: Supercharged. You can find out more about Alli on her personal blog at www.allimckee.com.