I’ll admit it: I’m a fitness junkie.
Ever since I was a little girl, I embraced every opportunity to run, jump, climb, to simply move, challenging my body to adapt and adjust from one activity to the next.
This love for movement and physical self-awareness progressed over the years from childhood games and activities, into a true love and appreciation for my body and all of its remarkable abilities. All of this lead me to pursue an education and career in healthcare and fitness.
For someone with nearly a decade of higher level medical education and practical experience, I’ll admit it took me far too long to truly grasp the importance of a regular yoga practice and incorporating yoga into workout routine. I held onto this preconceived notion that, in order to reap the real benefits of yoga, I needed to master the practice and devote hours of time every week to yoga.
Fortunately, a little research and practical application helped me adjust that view. Hopefully, these 5 tips and tricks will serve to help you see how to incorporate yoga into workout routine.
1. Practice yoga on “Active Rest Days.”
Even fitness junkies know working out hard, especially heavy weight training and physically demanding workouts like HIIT (high intensity interval training) intervals, requires what is called “active recovery.” Stepping away from the impact and muscle strain every 3-4 days gives your body time to recover and rebuild. It also provides you with the perfect opportunity for a devoted yoga day!
2. Incorporate yoga poses between weight lifting sets and HIIT intervals.
Break up your weighted sets and HIIT training with complimentary yoga poses that will help soothe the burn and break up lactic acid. If you’ve just hammered out a set of weighted lunges, try stretching out with Pyramid pose or a forward fold to stretch those muscles. Take your heart rate down after a hard HIIT interval with a measured sun salutation. Is it a core training day? Table Top pose feels amazing to help release those tight abdominal muscles!
3. Begin and end your workout with yoga.
A well-rounded workout includes a warm-up session and cool-down. Tempted as we might be, skipping these seemingly boring workout components is costly! It’s essential to take the time to get the blood flowing into your cool muscles before working them too hard too quickly. Likewise, it’s important to allow them to lengthen back out after consistent contractions and strain with a cooldown. Both a warm up and cool down are the perfect opportunity for a brief yoga flow! I love to fire up my body with two or three slow tempo sun salutations followed by three more increasing in speed and intensity before beginning my workout. I do it all over again to conclude the day’s workout with the same sequence executed in reverse. But, feel free to explore and experiment with whatever feels good for you!
4. Alternate HIIT and yoga flows.
If HIIT is one of your favorite ways to train, you should try utilizing yoga in between each interval to help bring your heart rate back down. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for a brief meditation and mental pep talk to get revved up and ready for your next interval! Not to mention, HITT is among many workouts that complement yoga by building muscle to aid with strength poses!
5. Yoga for cardio? Yes!
Not all yoga is about slowing down, calming, and careful meditation. Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely LOVE a peaceful yoga flow, but I can’t tell you how many times my day’s yoga practice has evolved into a quick-paced, heart-pumping cardio session! I like to pick out some fast BPM (beats per minute) music that gets a smile on my face and gets my blood pumping, and challenge myself to keep up with the rhythm. A structured or free flow yoga session fueled by fun melodies and requiring nothing but your own body (and yoga blocks or straps, if you like!) in order to get in a good sweat is an amazing experience!
Hopefully these ideas help you incorporate a little more yoga and all of the amazing benefits into your workout routine! From this fitness junkie to all of you: good luck and namaste!
About the Author
Veronica is a mom of four with an extensive background in medicine and physical therapy. She started practicing yoga as a tool for managing PTSD and anxiety along with the daily stresses of “Mom Life.” She now teaches yoga within her own community, encouraging others (especially other busy moms) to discover the numerous benefits of yoga.