Years ago, when I started taking my fitness level seriously I was faced with a common question - Should I start with yoga or join a gym? It was a difficult choice to make.
One set of people recommended hitting the gym and another set of people recommended yoga studios. In my fitness regime I have spent time at both Yoga studios and the Gym. Since I have seen the effect of Yoga and a Gym workout on my Body and Mind, I am in a good position to talk about how adding Yoga helps in a Training Routine/Gym workout. It’s a common belief that Yoga and the Gym don’t go together, however in my experience, they complement each other perfectly and are mtually beneficial. When someone does any repetitive movement or work, it eventually leads to imbalance in the muscles -one set of muscles becomes an unequal strength/size compared to an opposing set of muscles. These differences in muscle function can lead to serious injuries. That’s where Yoga benefits you.
Yoga has immense benefit if done after your workout to stretch the muscles and cool down the body. Yoga postures help to stretch all the used muscles which reduces soreness. During a yoga session one has to breathe with awareness for efficient oxygen intake and more complete exhalation. Also, the combination of stretching and relaxing muscles encourages the blood flow to the broken down muscle tissues. This brings more oxygen into the muscles, which speeds up the healing and promotesgrowth during the rest time.
The Pranayama and meditation at the end of a yoga session stimulate parasympathetically which helps to relax the nervous system and the return to a resting heart rate. That's why one feels fresh after including yoga in your gym routine, instead of feeling fatigued all day long.
Usually yoga is done after a workout, however one can incorporate it before the workout to warm up the body. Low intensity dynamic stretches, like SuryaNamaskar, help to warm up the body and reduce the risk of injury during workout.
During a workout one uses the same muscles for repetitive movements. This leads to tightness in the muscles. A tight muscle loses its elasticity and reduces the range of motion. Yoga is known for increasing Flexibility. If one includes a Yoga session, and periodically yogic massages, in one's fitness regime then it will improve the flexibility of the overall body and improve output due to greater muscle recruitment. Along with muscles, yoga also exercises ligaments and tendons, lubricates joints effectively and make them supple. Healthy joints and elastic muscles help to retain the greater range of motion.
Yoga is all about coordination between body, breath and mind.
Once a good coordination has been established between body movements and breath during a yoga session then this positive respiratory habit will carry forward to the workout training as well. Better breathing always ensures a great workout result.
With a regular yoga session, one develops body awareness which helps one become aware of correct workout technique, proper breathing and in turn avoiding injuries and better output.
Proper breathing makes the mind calm and focused. A clear mind gives better clarity towards the workout goal and increases the willpower to achieve more.
To sum up, Yoga (Asana, Pranayama and Meditation) improves balance, strength, overall flexibility and mental clarity to get more out of the same workout regimen.