A regular yoga practice provides many wonderful benefits, but yoga has something special to offer disciples of other forms of athleticism. No matter what your sport, yoga increases flexibility, range of motion and strength via body weight resistance. (Ever done Michael’s two minute hold in plank pose?) Yoga One student Jason Monger tells us why yoga is the perfect complement for his power lifting routine.
While some people lift weights competitively, the majority of people lift in order to maintain strength for everyday life. “You hear about people who throw out their back lifting a basket of laundry,” Jason explains, “It’s because they never developed the muscles along their spinal column and never learned how to properly use the body when picking up a heavy object. The strain builds up until one day injury happens.”
Jason started lifting at the gym when he was 17 but didn’t get into power lifting until college. Some of his buddies would hit the gym together and they invited him along. They taught Jason how to do his first dead lift and he was hooked.
Jason loves lifting not only because of the benefits he receives from the practice but also because of the way he feels when he’s at the gym. “If you do something you love, it’s easier to work out and meet your fitness goals. I even tried to get my mom into lifting because it’s great resistance training and helps prevent osteoporosis, but it’s not her thing,” he admits.
Yoga was definitely not a part of the power lifting culture Jason had discovered but he’d heard that it was great for working with injuries. “Power lifting is hard on the body,” Jason explains, “and injuries are a part of the sport. Yoga is a great tool for rehabilitation after an injury but it’s also effective at helping to prevent injuries in the first place.” What really got him on a mat in the studio though was his friend Jaz Roemer, one of Yoga One’s amazing massage therapists. She convinced him to go with her to class and the pull of having someone else hold him accountable worked its magic.
Now Jason goes to a yoga class about once a week and he’s incorporated yoga into his warm-up routine at the gym. According to him, adding yoga into a power lifting regimen is extremely beneficial. Yoga builds an awareness of body mechanics (for example, knowing how to extend the spine safely during squats) and improves flexibility (hamstring and hip flexibility are crucial for squatting properly to pick up the bar in a dead lift.)
“Going to the gym is the highlight of my day, I’m not happy if I can’t go and I get all agitated,” says Jason. “There’s a big difference between how I feel after lifting and after doing yoga. With weight lifting, when I hit a personal record, I feel really happy and energetic, it’s an intense feeling. I go to yoga for the opposite reason, when I walk in to class my mind is busy, thinking about a bunch of things and after class I feel incredibly relaxed, as if my body had melted into a pool of water.”
- Cat and Cow! – I suffered a back injury a few years ago and still need a way to stretch my back without stressing it. I thought about the cat/cow stretches we do in yoga and tried it out. It also works to loosen up the shoulders, which is helpful for lifting.
- Leg Swings – Opens up the front of the hip, hamstrings and by swinging to the side works into hip range of motion.
- Child’s Pose – Stretches my hips and relaxes my hip flexors, it’s also a gentle stretch for the patellar tendon (below the knee) which helps with any kind of squat.
- Modified Pigeon – I use an inclined bench to support my front leg so it becomes a standing version of pigeon. This is an intense hip stretch that feels awesome.
Do you practice yoga as a complement to another sport? Tell us how yoga improves your performance in the comments below or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to hear from you!