Yoga as a practice has been around for over 5,000 years, so it is likely there might be something to it. Some of the more common reasons people give yoga a try are that it can offer you stress relief, be a physical practice that helps with overall fitness, or serve as a complement to a chiropractic care plan. The truth is that everyone—seasoned athletes, busy moms and dads, seniors, and even fitness buffs—can benefit from yoga. In this article, we will explore seven reasons why you should add yoga to your exercise routine and how it helps you develop better breathing techniques, balance, flexibility, core strength, endurance, and focus.
#1: Strength and Stability
Yoga is great for building muscle strength. There is a power that comes from consistently holding up your own bodyweight that cannot be achieved with free weights. Lifting free weights largely focuses on the major muscles in the body and is potent when done correctly. Yoga, on the other hand, taps into all of the muscles in the body—all 640 of them!
A strong asana routine will work the little stabilizing muscles you may not know you even have. Building the smaller muscles in your body allows the larger muscles to work less and will help you to avoid injury in the long run. By incorporating yoga into your exercise routine, you will notice that you feel tremendously strong in a new and more fruitful way. A stronger body also helps you hold your chiropractic adjustments longer than a body that is stiff, sore, and weak. The strength your body will gain with a regular yoga routine can certainly enhance your overall chiropractic care.
Improved flexibility and mobility are probably the most recognized health benefits to practicing yoga, but here is why it’s so important. Poor muscle flexibility and joint mobility are the most common causes of musculoskeletal injuries in the body. Bottom line: when your muscles are really tight and your range of motion is limited, you are more prone to injuries.
Whether you’re participating in sports that require swinging actions (golf, tennis, etc.), running, or lifting weights, yoga will greatly help you prevent injuries and improve your overall game. Even after just a few classes, you will notice your body’s ability to stretch further. Added bonus: by going to your chiropractor equipped with better range of motion, you are more pliable. This usually allows your chiropractor to perform more in-depth adjustments for even greater results.
Balance of the body and mind is key for peak performance in your fitness routine. Yoga achieves both. Balance is a basic skill required in practically every sport and everyday life. Adjusting your center of gravity to match your moves is the key to any sport or physical activity. The technical term for this is agility. It’s what allows you to move gracefully—wasting little motion—because your joints can move through the full range of motion smoothly and confidently. Balancing poses in yoga improve not only overall balance, but gift you the ability to maintain structural integrity when challenged. Balancing also helps you achieve absolute focus and gain a sense of confidence. When you hold your first arm balance, you will feel such a sense of accomplishment. By stabilizing your body, the mind may also begin to stabilize and focus. It is difficult to focus on anything other than the present moment when you’re trying to hold a balanced pose.
When I talk about yoga helping your core, I am not just referring to a 6-pack and flat stomach, although it greatly improves that area as well. This is one of the biggest lessons many yogis learn on the journey of yoga. The abs are absolutely a part of your core, but so is your diaphragm, back muscles, and pelvic floor muscles. These muscles work together to help support and stabilize your spine and the body as a whole. Almost everything you do in yoga engages your core muscles, which equals a healthy back and healthy body. A strong core will greatly improve all areas of fitness, not to mention help you maintain integrity in your body as you grow older.
Poor posture can sneak up on all of us from time to time. Next time you’re sitting at your computer or scrolling through your phone on the couch… check yourself. Whether we spend our days slumping over a computer or lifting weights improperly, posture can be a real problem. Most people think that poor posture is not a big deal, but it can significantly impact your overall health. Much like a car needs to be in proper alignment to function optimally, so does your body. Your spinal health is such an integral part of your overall well-being. Yoga, along with chiropractic care, can help you achieve good posture in your spine by improving flexibility, muscle strength, and balance. By focusing on your posture, you will be able to safely work on your fitness goals.
If we are breathing, we are alive. However, in our fast-paced life, we often pay little attention to our breath. Whether you’re an athlete that is in a competitive sport or someone who likes to take a run in the morning, you are likely aware of the impact that breathing can have on your performance. Ever been in the middle of a rigorous workout and find yourself breathless and slowing down? Or the moments when you pause your breath completely to push through that next rep? Yoga will aid you in developing deep and relaxed breathing for better performance and offers the additional benefit of healing. With Yoga, you will learn to maintain a calm, controlled, even breath regardless of whether you’re doing something extremely challenging or simply sitting still. Bonus: these breath practices will help you in almost any stressful or anxious situation.
Oftentimes, when we are trying to achieve peak physical performance through exercise, we skip the most important part which is recovery. Skipping the recovery process is often what leads to injury. The right combination of yoga and chiropractic care will increase your body’s ability to heal and recover. In a yoga class, you will focus on elongating the muscles that you spend time contracting during a run or workout. Seek out a restorative yoga class or recreate the practice at home. These types of yoga exercises are where your muscles are allowed to relax deeply.
Restorative classes are very mellow, making them a good complement to more active exercise routines and sport. Yoga can also serve to warm up your body and clarify your minds before you visit your chiropractor. This helps your body get ready to work on healing itself from within.
Final thoughts on adding yoga to your exercise routine
A person’s yoga practice is as unique as every individual. While improved physical performance is a very likely outcome of integrating yoga into your exercise routine, you’ll also experience other mental, physical and spiritual benefits. Start slowly, listen to your body, and enjoy whatever comes.
Ask your local AlignLife chiropractor for an evaluation of your health issues and whether adding yoga to your overall health plan would help you lead a healthier, more active life.