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Why Bodybuilders and Strength Altheletes Benefit from Yoga

We've all heard of Yin and Yang...harmony. The concept in ancient Chinese medicine which refers to balance between 2 opposing forces. Such is the relationship between yoga and bodybuilding. The syncing of 2 opposites in order to create a perfect balance. As the old saying goes "opposites attract".

Yoga aims to keep things balanced in both the body and the mind. By incorporating a gentle yoga routine as part of your bodybuilding, the benefits will flow through not only to your weight training, but all other areas of your life. Let's face it, bodybuilding is a tough gig. The physical and mental discipline required can take its toll...things can get out of balance. As a yoga teacher and successful bodybuilding figure competitor, I am sworn testament to the benefits of yoga as part of my training regime. Here is my top 5 reasons why bodybuilders and weight trainers should do yoga :

1. Mind-Muscle connection. Yoga poses help us to become aware of the internal body, by taking our mind awareness to specific muscles that each yoga pose aims to target. This "muscle awareness" can be incorporated into your weight training. Each and every rep can be like yoga pose in itself. Where your attention goes, your energy will flow. By linking your mind with the specific muscle you are aiming to train, you are funnelling all your energy to that part of the body, thereby achieving maximum benefit from each and every rep.

2. Stretching and lymphatic drainage. It's something we all do unconsciously when we wake up...stretch the arms and legs out nice and long. It feels good to do it. This same concept applies post workout. During a workout our muscles are under constant tension, so by giving them a good stretch we release the tension and break down the muscle fibres further. This ultimately promotes growth of lean muscle. The lymphatic system also benefits, as yoga poses assist in the transport of lymphatic fluid through the body, thereby achieving great healing benefits and strengthening of the immune system.

3. Range of motion. To achieve the most benefit from an exercise we require full range of motion and mobility in the joints and surrounding muscles. Tense muscles and stiff joints hinder our ability to achieve this full range of motion, therefore failure to receive the full benefit of each exercise. Specific yoga poses aim to mobilise, lengthen and strengthen joints and surrounding muscle. By having a full range of motion in all areas of the body, weight training becomes more efficient. Precious energy is not wasted on doing a half an exercise. A full range of motion in the joints and muscles gives you more bang for your buck each and every rep.

4. Injury prevention and Recovery. So much money in invested in remedial and sports specific massages. Whilst this type of therapy definitely plays an integral role in bodybuilding, so too can yoga assist with injury prevention and recovery. It basically comes back to getting the body moving in the full scope as nature originally intended. Constant contraction and tension on the muscles and joints from weight training without some kind of release will eventually take its toll, if not now then some time in the future as the body starts to age. Avoid injury by keeping the body supple, flexible and mobile. As a yoga teacher, the most common reason I hear people say as to why they are scared to try yoga is because the aren't flexible enough. I can't emphasise enough that this is the exact reason why you should do yoga. The body has an amazing ability to remember those movements that you once had the ability to do. All you need is patience.

5. Focus. Yoga teaches us to have a concentrated and focused mind. Through specific meditation and breathing techniques yoga can teach us to tame that monkey mind, slow down and be present in the moment. Be present in each and every rep. Instead of hitting the gym and simply going through the motions, being truly present in every exercise makes for more efficient training. Energy expenditure is fully harnessed, not wasted. With a focused mind, thoughts become clearer, and goals become stepping stones to reality.