It’s no secret that heavy lifting and the drop-down method build muscle mass, and that increased muscle mass can interfere with flexibility and range of motion. Muscle mass also doesn’t always equate to strength. As professional body-builders know, increased mass results from hypertrophy, or the microscopic tearing and scarring of overtaxed muscle fibers, and hypertrophy may have little to do with increases in strength and conditioning.
So how can we round out a lifting regimen with moves that will build real strength, increase our flexibility, improve blood flow, and elevate the focus and concentration that contribute to athletic performance? Yoga is a great place to start.
Yoga and Athletic Performance
Yoga uses basic principles of stretching combined with additional elements that support breathing and circulation. And most yoga poses also help us build and strengthen the “rails”, the minuscule muscle interactions that are often unconscious and contribute to subtle elements of performance like balance and coordination.
But since adding yoga to your workout routine comes with very little cost and no risk, the best way to examine its benefits is to simply start doing it. Find an excellent yoga instructor in your area, or attend the classes that may be offered at your gym. If you can’t find a yoga resource near you, search the internet for descriptions of basic poses and stretches. The quality of yoga instruction matters—an excellent teacher can help you obtain the benefits of a yoga habit faster. But it’s perfectly okay to strike out on your own.
Recognize that yoga requires discipline, and that it should be done along with, not in place of, your regular training routine. But after a few sessions, you’ll recognize how great your body feels after 30 minutes to an hour of yoga instruction. And it won’t be long before you see the effect of these sessions on your performance.