When it comes to getting fitter, what you do during your recovery time is as important as what you do during your workouts. But what should you be doing between hard workouts or on off days from your sport?
Active recovery, or low-intensity movement that helps support muscle repair and growth, is vital if you want to maximize your performance. And yoga is one of the best forms of active recovery.
The benefits of yoga
Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, and many of its benefits are scientifically proven. Yoga is much more than just stretching! It has been shown to decrease stress, reduce anxiety and depression, support heart and lung health, and improve strength. With so many benefits, your future self will thank you for including a regular yoga practice in your life.
Here are a few ways to incorporate yoga into your fitness recovery routine.
Practice at home
Yoga classes can be a great choice but if you’re on a budget or short on time, you can also practice yoga at home. Youtube channels like YogaDownload and Yoga With Adriene are amazing free resources. You might want to invest in a yoga mat and a pair of blocks, but they’re not necessary when you are just starting out.
Choose the right form of yoga
There are many different varieties of yoga, from hatha (slower paced movement combined with breathing) to vinyasa (faster and more athletic movement) and Bikram (hot yoga, performed in sauna-like conditions.) Each has its own benefits, so consider your fitness goals. For recovery purposes, you might want to choose a slower-paced class or practice.
Don’t forget your breath
Pranayama, or breath control, is a core component of yoga. Even if you’re the type of athlete who prefers to go hard and break a sweat, don’t underestimate the importance of slowing down and focusing on your breathing.
Pranayama can help strengthen your lungs, lower your blood pressure, and improve digestive function. All of this is great news for your training and fitness goals!
Focus on specific muscle groups
Yoga is a great full-body exercise system, but you can also focus on specific muscle groups to aid your training. You can find a video to follow that focuses on a particular muscle group, or learn a few basic yoga moves and then put together your own practice.
Listen to your body
Yoga is deeply personal and looks different for everyone. Instead of trying to get into the perfect posture, turn your attention inwards and focus on how you feel. Your body knows best, so let it guide you.
A little goes a long way
Even 15-20 minutes of yoga can help you enjoy the physical and mental health benefits it brings. So if you don’t have time for a full hour-long class, carve out 15 minutes in your day to spend some time on your mat. You’ll be glad you did!