I’m both a yoga teacher and a personal trainer. I love lifting weights, doing burpees (not kidding) and everything about yoga. I’m often surprised at the lack of crossover between the yoga and fitness communities I work and play in, because I happen to think that they compliment each other quite nicely.
I’m always trying to convert my friends and co-workers from the gym to come to yoga with me. And for some reason, it’s rare that any of them actually take me up on it.
Some excuses I’ve heard recently:
“Love the idea of yoga but have zero time. I need a workout that can provide me the most results in the shortest time.”
“I’ve never really enjoyed yoga… I just feel like it’s boring.”
“I don’t like yoga because I feel I’m not flexible enough and by the time I actually get in a pose the instructor is already moved to the next one.”
Or my personal favorite (because it’s so brutally honest):
“I don’t like the ‘hold it right there for as long as possible poses’ or laying on the ground listening to my breath… I just think of how I’d rather be running instead. It’s like I’m trapped in the room and can’t get out. I personally like barbells and sprints and pushing myself to the limit to feel like I got a workout in.”
I get it. We all have certain workouts that we prefer. And I know the benefits that yoga can bring are real. When used as a cross training tool, yoga can help you get even betterresults from your workout of choice. I credit yoga for helping me achieve my first pistol squat, not be afraid to try handstand wall walks the first time I went to CrossFit, and my ability to hang in a ballet class with dancers 15 years younger than me.
I believe that there are enough different styles of yoga and different types of instructors that everyone can find something they at least kind of enjoy. If you’re worried about not fitting in at a yoga class or being able to twist yourself up like a pretzel, don’t worry. There are plenty of instructors out there who get that yoga isn’t “one size fits all” and will help you find the best variation of a pose for your body and ability.
While I would love for yoga to become your new favorite thing, I’d settle for you at least giving it a try and finding a place for it somewhere in your routine. Because I think that you’d really like the benefits you get from it, even if you don’t always adore every moment in every pose. Need some good reasons to consider it?
1. It Increases Flexibility & Mobility
These two terms are often used interchangeably, but flexibility relates to the length of your muscles while mobility encompasses the way your joints move. You don’t have to be flexible or have great mobility to do yoga, but yoga will help you get better overall range of motion with time.
This means more ease when it comes to maintaining good form for things like squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses, as well as decreased risk of injury. Score!
2. It Can Help You Get Stronger
For most of us, when we think about building strength, the first thing that comes to mind is lifting weights. But many yoga poses, especially when held for a longer duration, can help build strength and stability in the joints.
If you are used to always working out with equipment or at a fast pace, slowing down and using only your own body weight can be a great challenge and help you work your muscles in a new way.
3. It’s a Great Option for an “Off” Day
I can’t be the only person who has a hard time taking a rest day right? For those of us who love to work out, it can be tempting to push through a gym session or our favorite class because it sounds like a better alternative than doing nothing at all.
Yoga can be a great option for those days when you want to move your body but aren’t sure that you want to go hardcore. Many poses also feel really good when you are dealing with sore muscles.
4. It Can Help You Avoid Injuries and Burnout From Overtraining
You know that feeling you get when you’ve been crushing your fitness goals and then all of a sudden you find yourself struggling to even get out of bed? You start getting sick more often, feel cranky, tired, and have stubborn injuries that just won’t heal?
A restorative yoga class might be just the thing you need to start recovering better and calm your stress hormones. I mean, just because running is your favorite workout doesn’t mean your body wants to do it seven days a week.
5. It Helps You Get Your Breathing In Check
In yoga there are different breathing techniques (pranayama) you can use to warm or cool your body or just help yourself to feel more calm. These can be translated into other fitness endeavors, and help you prepare yourself physically and mentally for a competitive event.
Breath is also an essential component when it comes to all kinds of strength training. Getting better at using it to your advantage might just help you hit a new PR.
6. It Helps You Develop Good Body Awareness
Yes, in a yoga class you might be asked to hold a position for a really long time or lie on the floor and listen to your breathing. But it’s worth it! Because when you have good body awareness you’ll be able to quickly take an alignment correction when you get it from a coach or instructor in another class.
This means you’ll get even better at your favorite activity. And you’re less likely to trip over that stray kettlebell that somebody left in the middle of the gym floor.
7. It Improves Your Mindset
I like to call this “yoga off the mat”. Yoga philosophy teaches things like focus, mindfulness, contentment, and non-harming. On a physical level this can translate into more effective training sessions and reduced risk of injuries. But it can also bring you more resilience, a more positive outlook on life, and the tendency to take better care of yourself.
8. It Makes You the Expert on Your Own Body
How many times have you been in a situation where a coach with a “no excuses” mentality convinced you to do something that was totally wrong for your body? In my experience, a good yoga teacher will encourage you to listen to your body and find the variation of a pose that suits you best.
When you’re given an environment where you’re encouraged to find what’s best for you, you’ll be more likely to make good (and safe!) choices in other areas of your life.
9. It Can Be Really Fun!
Yes, some yoga classes are really quiet and serious. But a lot of teachers (like me) keep things really light and fun! I love to crack jokes, create themed playlists, and have yoga “recess” in the middle of class.
When you approach challenging postures with a playful mindset you might just surprise yourself and have a really good time.
I hope that at least one of these 9 reasons is enough for you to consider making yoga a regular part of your fitness routine. Whether you choose to take studio class, try an online video, or just experiment with a few poses in your living room, don’t wait! Yoga can be a big game changer when it comes to achieving your fitness goals.