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Is yoga the performance booster you’ve been missing?

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Similar to high school, in the world of sports and fitness, we usually find ourselves part of a clique: the yogis, weightlifters, sprinters, marathon runners, functional trainers, etc. The good news is, you don’t need to swear your loyalty to one and separate yourself from the rest. If you usually hang with the HIIT crew, but always wanted to be one of the yogis, we encourage experiencing the benefits of both and using one to complement the other.

With a combination of any sports (especially HIIT) and yoga, you are simultaneously training your body and mind, increasing flexibility, building strength, preventing muscle soreness and clearing negativity, which could potentially hinder progress. Could yoga be the performance booster you’ve been missing out on? Here’s how to find out:

Are you the most inflexible person on the training ground?

Then you need yoga. Chances are, if you frequently use the same muscles over and over again, they‘re going to get pretty tight. When a certain muscle becomes too tight, your body will begin to use other muscles instead, to avoid injury. This might sound alright, but if the substitute muscles are undertrained, you could develop a tear or strain. That‘s where flexibility comes in. Flexibility is what keeps your muscles and joints loose, and looser muscles are able to move more efficiently and recover faster. How does yoga improve your flexibility? ‘Active stretching‘, the kind of stretching you would do in a yoga class, is actually a far cry from the casual “touch your toes” you might expect. With active stretching, the muscle opposite the one being stretched is contracted, pulling you actively in the stretching position. Be aware that your range of motion is a bit lower in active stretching compared to passive stretching, as you have to reach a certain position with your own muscle strength. However, combining both – stretching and strengthening – helps you to build proper stabilization and therefore helps you protect your joints over time. Translation: you become more flexible and less prone to injury.

Do you often experience stitches?

Then you need yoga. If you‘ve ever been to a yoga class before, you probably know that much of the practice is just about focusing on your breath. While this certainly helps us to relax, it also develops respiratory habits that you can apply to your training. Focusing on your breath and learning how to breathe deeper equates to more efficient oxygen intake, more complete exhalation and better overall muscle function. Time to say goodbye to those side stitches.

Are all those stressful days in the office ruining your training schedule?

Then you need yoga. Yoga is all about developing a connection between your body and your mind, through a combination of physical poses, controlled breathing and meditation. Oftentimes, when we‘re coping with a big life event or face a lot of pressure at work, our training plans suffer because our heads are elsewhere. But since stress is all in the mind, it can be controlled with a little extra time on your yoga mat. Learning to focus on one thing at a time may be difficult at first, but it can be very worthwhile in terms of slowing down your thoughts and drawing awareness to your breath. Once you learn how to develop your focus, you can use this to conquer your Gods workouts and reach a new PB. Whether you‘re meditating in class or holding a challenging pose for an extended period of time, yoga will help you feel more in tune with your body and able to achieve long-lasting results. #Winning.

Sore muscles holding you back?

Then you need yoga. Regular stretching has been proven to prevent muscle soreness. This doesn‘t mean a 10 minute stretching session after a workout, which can actually hinder your progress by putting excess strain on your muscles, but instead a distinct, full stretching session on your recovery days. In particular, the combination of stretching and relaxing your muscles that you experience during yoga encourages blood flow to broken down muscle tissues, so you‘ll be back up and running for your next training session in no time.

Whether you’re a weightlifter, runner or bodyweight fan, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and unleash your inner yogi. You never know…this could be the boost your performance has been waiting for.