No matter where you live, chances are you’ve recently embraced a slower pace in your workout routine. After all, the lifestyle changes we’ve all experienced recently have forced us to shift our mindset around exercising.
How do you find motivation when you don’t have access to the gym? How do you DIY your training drills in a way that works for your schedule and your body? And how can you keep things interesting?
The recent years especially have taken our mood and motivation to workout on a roller coaster ride. But while relying solely on willpower to move your body can be unsustainable - especially at home - adapting your workouts to your needs is what can make a fitness routine stick. The key is to add - along with your weight and cardio training - a little bit of yoga and mobility.
With the help of yoga teachers and fitness experts, we dive into the importance of yoga and mobility, and give you a simple step-by-step to implement it seamlessly with your workout routine at home.
Yoga For Strength Training
Categorised as a “practice” rather than a workout, yoga blends mental, physical, and spiritual exercises with the aim to enhance mindfulness. This wholesome approach - when implemented regularly - can have a subtle yet strong impact on your health, your mindset, and your fitness results.
The Benefits For Physical and Mental Health
Each yoga pose comes together to create a harmonious flow meant to physically benefit your body in various ways.
- Support Digestion Twisting poses compress and stimulate your organs in the midsection, supporting the body’s cleansing system.
- Ease Pain & Ache Yoga involves targeted movement that aims to decompress the spine. Think forward folds or bridge pose.
- Increase Blood Flow Allowing you to move in all 3 planes of movement, yoga prevents the stagnation of fluid in the body and boosting circulation.
- Build Muscle Strength Yoga isn’t just a stretch. The practice requires intentional muscle contraction that gradually strengthens your joints, tissues, and muscles.
- Improve Balance and Posture In a more subtle way, breath, and intentional movement foster body awareness. This helps you understand how to shift and use your strength to realign your posture and find balance.
- Nurture Wellbeing Yoga asks us to use your breath and pay attention to our body. This simple action allows our nervous system to relax enter a rest and digest mode
Best Yoga Styles For Strength Training
Yoga is versatile and the practice can be as gentle or as intense as you wish. Here are the best yoga styles to pair with your strength training.
Vinyasa. A flowy and popular option that focuses on synchronising movement and breath. Ideal if you want a dynamic class that provides strength, challenge, and a stretch.
Hatha. A slower and more traditional version of vinyasa, it is perfect for first-time beginners who want the time to ease into each pose.
Yin. Focusing long holds and relaxation, yin classes provide the deep stretches you’ve been longing for. This class is mainly done seated or laying down.
Ashtanga. The more intense version of the bunch, this style provides a repetitive and fast-paced sequence that offers as many physical challenges as a cardio workout.
Don’t let the idea of “not flexible enough” stop you from trying out yoga. The practice is actually here to help you find the balance between your own flexibility and strength. It is adaptable to your limitations, but can also give you the challenges you need.
Swapping your workouts for a yoga class once or twice a week is a great way to give your muscles and joints the nurturing they deserve. Yoga is a form of active rest that stretches, relax, and heal your body back in shape. In fact, it’s been shown that yoga support muscle recovery and can help prevent cartilage and joint breakdown.
Mobility For Strength Training
Mobility drills, or mobility sequences, is all about improving strength through the optimisation of your range of motion. While it can often be confused with stretching, a mobility sequence actually targets the muscles, joints, and tissues with the intend to reinforce the body - unlike stretching, which aim to increase flexibility.
The Benefits For Muscles and Joints health
Best done as a warm-up, a mobility sequence aim to prepare your body for the stress of strength training. It involves supporting tools and repetitive movement to increase the range of movement. When our body moves to its full capacity, it can utilise its strength, flexibility, and constraint in a more effective way. A regular mobility drill helps:
In a recent study, researchers observed the impact of stretching and mobility drills on a group of athletes. After various tests and observation, they found that mobility significantly reduced the risk of injuries and improved performance, compared to stretching.
Best Mobility Equipment for Strength Training
Think of mobility as a self-assisted massage. For a 10 minutes sequence to be effective and enhancing, you need to go tissue deep. That’s why it is best to use mobility tools and equipment to work in and around your body.
- Foam roller. This tool targets your fascia - or soft connective tissue - located right under the skin. It can be setup for your glutes, hamstrings, calf or quadriceps, and with a gentle roll motion, it releases the adhesion between skin, muscles, and bones.
- Massage balls. Whether you use one that is smooth or spiky, massage balls are often utilised on the spine, neck, shoulders, or to target specific muscles. By applying a small pressure in circular motions, this tool helps relieve tension and soreness.
- Triflex. This triangle shape myofascial tool mimics the bent finger action used in therapeutic massage. It easily targets knots and trigger points around the body to alleviate stiffness and pain in the neck, hands, feet, hip flexors, calves, and more.
Steps to Implement Yoga and Mobility In Your Workout Routine
Now that you’re a little more familiar with how yoga and mobility can enhance your physical health, wellbeing, and workout routine, it’s time to adapt your schedule and make room for these practices.
Step 1: Assess your needs
Whether we push ourselves too hard or lack the motivation to move at home, taking the time to check in where we're at is an essential step in keeping up with a training. By assessing your mood, energy, and how your body is feeling, you allow yourself to be more in tune with what you need. Yoga and mobility are great options when the body demands a gentle boost to get moving or seek an active rest.
Step 2: Start small
Both yoga and mobility can feel intimidating. So start with a simple and short 10 minutes routine. Not only this gives you a chance to try things out at your own pace, but you will also quickly notice the benefits on your strength training.
Step 3. Get digital
It goes without saying that there is plenty of free yoga classes and mobility drills online for you to get started. So make the best of them. For yoga, we recommend Yoga with Adrienne on youtube, or the apps Down Dog and Alo moves. For mobility drills, the Romwod app is one of our favourites, along with the flexibility and mobility videos from The Lean Machines.
All-in-all, yoga and mobility can be great alternatives (or add ons) to your strength training. They offer the recovery needs your body craves, and give you a chance to move according to your mood and energy.
Remember that motivation, especially when you’re locked at home, is fleeting and the hardest part is to get started. But if you convince yourself to get on the floor for 10 minutes and gently nurture your muscles with yoga or mobility, you’ll see that your energy and performance will quickly shift.
Laura Alario is a freelance writer, wellness consultant and former yoga-pilates instructor. Find her at lauraalrwrites.com