If you’ve never tried yoga – or you think it’s only for hippies – we’re here to tell you two things. One, hippies are cool, so don’t be hatin’. And two, yoga can improve your health, make you a better athlete, and even impact your mental health. We’re breaking down some of the best benefits of yoga.
7 Benefits of Yoga:
Besides making you feel super Zen and incredible, yoga can help athletes in other ways.
#1 Aids in Muscle Recovery
If you’re a CrossFit athlete, you know that next-day feeling your muscles have after a tough WOD. Cardio, weightlifting, and even chasing kids around the house can leave you achy and sore.
Recovery days are an essential part of your training program, and yoga can help your muscles heal. Gentle yoga can stretch sore muscles, target troubled areas, and loosen those achy joints. Try adding a yoga practice to your rest days – you might be surprised how much better you feel.
#2 Increases Flexibility
Flexibility is vital for CrossFit, weightlifting, and other sports. Without proper shoulder and hip flexibility, many lifts will be incredibly difficult to perform correctly.
A regular yoga practice will gradually increase your flexibility, particularly in your hips, back, and shoulders. Better flexibility can reduce the risk of injury and help you maintain proper form while lifting.
#3 Improves Balance
CrossFit requires a great deal of balance. Without a good sense of balance, those pistol squats become butt bounces, and overhead squats become barbell-throwing squashes.
Incorporating yoga into your weekly workout routine can help you tone your core and fine-tune your center of gravity. Better balance will help you have better body control, making you a more effective athlete.
#4 Impacts Heart Health
When we get stressed, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. Too much cortisol makes it harder to lose weight and can lead to high blood pressure, clogged arteries, and heart trouble.
Though cardiologists have long touted aerobic exercise as the only way to reduce the risk of heart disease, more physicians now recognize yoga’s positive impact on heart health.
Practicing yoga can help reduce stress, lower cortisol levels, reduce blood pressure, and lower blood glucose. If you want to keep your ticker healthy, the answer might be as simple as embracing the Downward Dog.
#5 Promotes Better Sleep
The health gurus at Harvard found that 55% of people who practice yoga reported getting a better night’s sleep. And 85% of those surveyed said yoga helps them reduce stress, which can also lead to better sleep habits.
Sleep is incredibly important to your overall health. Adding a little yoga to your pre-bedtime routine can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and get better quality snooze time.
#6 Improves Focus on Breathing
If you find yourself gasping for air after doing a million burpees (I can’t be the only one, right?), you might need some help learning how to breathe. Yoga teaches different techniques like deep breathing, recovery breathing, and how to regulate your breathing during strenuous exercise. These techniques can help you work out harder and longer without becoming quite so breathless.
Unfortunately, though, yoga doesn’t make burpees easy. Nothing can do that.
#7 Supports Mental Health
We already know that exercise helps improve mood. (Don’t believe us? Read more about it here). But a recent report published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at 19 clinical studies examining yoga’s impacts on mental health disorders.
These studies followed participants who suffer from major depressive disorders or depression related to other mental health disorders. Those who did yoga at least two days per week for at least 20 minutes per session noted a decrease in their depression symptoms. And the more often they did yoga, the more improvement they noticed.
While yoga certainly won’t replace other mental health treatments, it can help improve your mood, reduce stress, and complement other relaxation and mental health strategies.