Yoga: Why I love it
Not just for Yogis
Yoga was one of those disciplines that I really struggled with. I have dabbled with yoga for ten years but was never able to stick with it. It took quite a lot of trauma to finally help me to fully understand the benefits.
In 2014 I had a series of injuries. First, I shattered several fingers in TAG Rugby. I underwent two surgeries and had tons of pins placed. When I was finally coming back to strength and grip, I hurt my lower back. All of this meant that I wasn't able to train very much, certainly not in the same way and with the same intensity as I was used to.
As is so often the case, the reason my back gave out is because I trained too hard after a long period of down time from my finger injury. I wasn't taking the care I needed to find out what was best.
In November 2014 I was pretty much crippled. I couldn't even bend down to pick things up off the floor. I wasn't pain free until June 2015. I had to slowly build up my strength with a lot of physio and plenty of structural rebalance work. I wanted to improve my mobility to make sure I didn't get injuries like this again.
I started Bikram and hot yoga twice a week as part of my rehab with 1-2 structural rebalance weight training sessions in my program. This was the first time I actually did any type of yoga consistently. Part of the reason I liked it was that I wasn't really able to exert myself in other training so it was great to get a really good sweat going. I stuck with it for about one year then started building weight training and went back to TAG Rugby.
Bikram isn't' for everyone. A lot of people decry it and, in fact, the self proclaimed guru of Bikram is under fire for a lot of pretty crazy stuff. You need to be careful not to get dehydrated or to over exert yourself in the heat. It worked for me with what I needed at the time but it is definitely not for everyone.
Last year, after building up my load at the gym, doing track training and TAG Rugby it was too much to add 90 mins of high intensity, fast and hot yoga. After working with my trainer Andy (yes, I have a trainer too!) on a new program, he started to incorporate a lot of mobility and movement into it. I decided to try different types of yoga to see how I could include a dedicated mobility practice into my schedule.
There are many different types of yoga and it's important to find the one that works for you and your particular needs. Perhaps you go to different types of yoga practices depending on what you want out of the practice on that particular day.
A quick breakdown of different types of Yoga:
I found Yin and Restorative yoga practices to be the best for my needs right now. They are calming and only an hour long. In the last six months I have begun incorporating movements from these practices into sessions with my clients more frequently.
You might hold one position for 5-10 minutes - quite intense! It's more about tendons and ligaments rather than stretching the muscle. This type of restorative mobility work is really important for my clients, especially those who train several times a week.
Not every training session is about the highest heart rate and the most sweat. You don't want to take too much energy from your health bank account (this phrase will be very familiar to my clients!). It's important to give your system the ability to restore itself.
So many of my clients are tight and wound up from constant stress and lots of training. It's important to balance the yin and the yang. Adding Yin and Restorative poses to your training schedule or including a class on an off-training day can have a huge positive impact on your overall wellbeing.
At the moment, when I'm not practicing on my own, I go to More Yoga at More Fit which have evening Yin and Restorative yoga classes close to home.
Try adding some yoga to your schedule and let me know what you think and which practices you prefer.