If you’re a regular reader around here, you may have noticed that several of us Girls Gone Strong not only love lifting heavy things, we also love yoga. And with good reason.
Molly and Alli, heading into a yoga class.
Yoga can offer many benefits beyond the mind and spirit. Incorporating yoga into your life can complement your efforts in the gym and in many other athletic endeavors. People experience yoga and its benefits differently. We can’t guarantee that taking up yoga will be the solution to a nagging pain, or that it will be the secret ingredient that will blast you past a strength plateau with your deadlift. But we do believe that yoga can be a positive addition to your fitness routine and encourage you to give it a try.
Here are just some of the benefits reported by people who practice yoga:
- Strengthens deep connective tissue, which could help prevent or minimize injury.
- Can improve mobility and range of motion.
- Can enhance physical balance and greater awareness of your body’s center, which could improve your balance in motion, your ability to recover from or prevent falls, and your overall agility and movement.
- Can improve circulation.
- The yoga breath is said to aid in speeding up recovery time from training and reducing fatigue.
- Can enhance sensory acuity, mental focus, concentration, mental clarity, will power, and determination.
- Can help reduce pre-competition anxiety and stress.
- Can help balance and manage emotions that could cloud focus, concentration, and judgment.
- Can improve your mental response time.
- In sports, when done as a team, it could enhance team synergy and team chemistry on and off the playing field.
Not all yoga is created equal. There are different types of yoga, and you might enjoy one type more than another. Check out our article by Stacey Schaedler, where she talks about 3 types of yoga for the Girl Gone Strong.
Maybe you’re not that into the idea of trying yoga right now. That’s OK. They say that yoga finds you when the time is right.
For me, it was late October of 2012, just as the holiday season began. This was a dense year of change, hustling, and lessons learned. Near 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 and body control), meditation (relaxation and 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 complement and enhance my efforts through core strength and body awareness. It was around this time that I found a studio and a group of people that would truly change my life.
As with anything I want to learn and get better at, I decided to jump into yoga whole-heartedly and signed up for an unlimited monthly membership. The sweat, the flow, and the thoughtful messages laced throughout each class got me hooked very quickly. It 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 a shift in my spirit and mind. Then came the physical shift.
Through yoga, I started mellowing out as I gained perspective. I looked forward to the daily meditations. All of this truly boosted my spirit. Over time, just like in the gym, I began to see progress in my yoga practice. Little by little, I began to feel relief in my low back, mobility in my thoracic rotation, flexibility in my shoulders and hamstrings, greater balance and body awareness, a better flow between movements, improved breathing patterns, and most exciting, progress with my inversions.
Alli doing some yoga inversions. Top Left – Eight Angle Pose. Bottom Left – Scorpion. Right – Chin Stand.
I’ve since reincorporated traditional strength training back into my routine, along with running and conditioning. When I went back to test my strength, after taking a break from training, I found that while I hadn’t performed max efforts in quite some time, I was still hitting what I consider strong numbers on bench, squat, and deadlift. And my calisthenic work improved considerably. Above all, my body feels great, and my mind feels even better!
I absolutely love that yoga found me, and I will continue to study and practice it for an indefinite amount of time. I’m looking forward to what more I may uncover through this experience. I hope the power of yoga finds you.