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When You Start Doing Yoga, These 7 Things Will Happen

When You Start Doing Yoga, These 7 Things Will Happen

Yoga has been practised for thousands of years and when you start doing yoga, it’s easy to see why this practice remains popular. Yoga is designed to rejuvenate the body and mind, and is about focusing on the self. It’s a discipline that grows with you as you become more tuned in with your physical-spiritual connection. It can be easy to forget that yoga is a journey into your self-development and that class shouldn’t be a time to show off. It’s a time to heal, tune-in, see how your practice has evolved, and of course, to have fun!

Here are seven things that will happen when you start practising yoga.

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You’ll learn to let go of what doesn’t serve you

My teacher says this a lot in class and it really is true. As you begin to realise that there is no competition in class and there’s only so far you can push your body, you bring that philosophy into your life. You may also find that old emotions come up during a particular pose. I remember one class when I was so angry, I felt sick and felt like crying and I wondered if there was something wrong with me. Then I found this website which described why we can feel overwhelmed in class. It was helpful to be reminded that yoga entails allowing yourself to heal which means buried emotions resurfacing so they can be released.

You’ll become more confident!

Yoga allows you to connect more deeply with yourself and your body. You start to feel gratitude that you can hold your body weight – especially when doing a vinyasa that incorporates chaturanga! You embrace every part of yourself because you know it’s your body and you CAN do it. You’ll build muscle and tone up places you didn’t even know existed! Here’s a guide to how yoga changes the body over a prolonged period of time.

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You’ll become mindful of the types of food you eat

Maybe it’s the new found awareness of your body, or the detoxing stretches, but something clicks in your brain and suddenly you don’t want to fill your body with chemicals, or eat food loaded with sugar. Me and my friend always joke that the best meal of the week is the post yoga class meal. You feel so good that you want to carry that through into everything. Not only that, but your metabolism improves meaning your body can utilise vitamins and minerals with more efficiency and much more effectively. This study by Shauna E. Keeler describes how those who practised yoga were more mindful of their food choices.

You’ll sleep more deeply

Hooray!! This is something we could all do with more of! This detailed study by Catherine Woodyard shows how yoga contributes to a fuller and sounder nights sleep and is beneficial to all areas of our lives. When you get a good nights sleep, your productivity increases, your stress levels decrease and your cognitive function greatly improves. If you’re having difficulty sleeping The Yoga Journal website has some amazing poses to help you sleep better at night.

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You’ll become mindful of your actions off the mat as well as on the mat

You’ll gain an awareness of how your body reacts in particular situations and you’ll learn how to alleviate the symptoms and find a beneficial solution. You may begin to set positive intentions during the day as well as during class, and as a bonus you may find you’ll have more patience with the flow of life. Here’s what the Harvard Health website has to say about the benefits of yoga off the mat.

You’ll be aware of your breath as a healing tool

Yoga incorporates different breathing techniques that this study in the International Journal of Yoga says “positively affects immune function, autonomic nervous system imbalances, and psychological or stress related disorders”. This means that the techniques taught in a yoga class are far more beneficial than most people think. They can be incorporated into daily life to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and ease anxiety. For example diaphragmatic breathing is great for beginners because you are taught how to consciously breathe by concentrating on how it feels to breathe. If you’re interested in the different types of breathing exercises I recommend reading “Breath Easy: Relax With Pranayama”

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You’ll have less frequent aches and pains

The Harvard Health website states that those who suffer from chronic pain found that their pain lessened with weekly yoga sessions. As someone who suffers from neck and back pain I have definitely found that doing yoga has helped. In fact my neck pain has gone and my back pain very rarely flares up. If you decide that you want to pursue yoga for this reason then remember to speak to your doctor and find a qualified yoga instructor and inform them of your pain or any medical conditions you have. They can work with you to find poses to alleviate your pain.

“Yoga stirs up the comfortable identity you’ve been projecting and peels back why you even want/need that identity in the first place.” – Caren Baginski

The body follows the mind. Yoga is a discipline that allows you to fight past the doubt and realise how your limitations are in the mind. You start to honour yourself and suddenly the negative self-talk doesn’t cut it anymore. Through yoga you come to realise that negativity doesn’t serve you and that it acts as a barrier to all the positive things you can do. You’re empowered to love yourself and feel good about who you are and the progress you make not just in class, but in life too.

Featured photo credit: Hawaii Sunrise AcroRevolution Style via flickr.com

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Published on March 8, 2019

How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

When we fall into a workout routine, our moves become automatic, and the body quickly adapts. This is called muscle memory.[1] While teaching your body how to properly execute squats, push-ups, or crunches is a benefit, overly relying on these moves to consistently grow gains won’t yield the kind of results you want. That’s because the muscles work in the same way every time.

Simply put, they’re not being “surprised,” so they get lazy.

Supplementing your routine with flow yoga is one way of surprising your muscles, especially if you are new to the yoga practice and have never tried the postures. It’s like taking a new road home when you drive, deviating from your usual route. Science has found that by doing so, you’re creating new neuropathways in your brain.[2] The same is done in your muscles when you try a new routine.

How is this done? Let’s dive right into it.

How Flow Yoga Boost Your Gains in Your Workout Routine

Think about your current workouts:

If you lift weights, you rely on external tools to engage your various muscle groups. Over time, your shoulders, legs, or biceps will come to expect the weighted plates or dumbbells, in the repetitive sequences that you remember.

In flow yoga, we use the body as the weight. Add gravity and hundreds of different postures and combinations, and you have a workout that uses the same muscle groups, but in many different ways.

A pose such as plank is a full-body workout, with every muscle engaged to keep the body in one long line. While it’s a stationary pose, it requires muscle control and activation, with no room for passivity.

    A Flow sequence, on the other hand, requires your muscle to switch from one pose to another swiftly, providing you with a more balanced and wholesome use of your major muscle groups.

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    Not only do these poses and routines re-energize the body in a refreshing way, they also allow you to learn something new, which is powerful for the mind.

    Bottom line? Complementing your exercise regimen with flow yoga is like hitting the shuffle button on your workouts, using your muscles in ways that “surprise” them, which in turn boost their growth and performance.

    Energizing Flow Yoga with Added Cardio

    Flow yoga is also known as “Vinyasa.”[3] In Sanskrit – the sacred language of the practice and its Indian roots – Vinyasa is roughly translated to “one breath, one movement.”

    This guideline, first and foremost, enhances your breathing, and teaches you how to go from our typical shallow, chest-only breathing, to a more deeper, belly-chest breath that uses the entire lung system.

    Not only is this beneficial for a myriad of healthcare reasons (combat allergies, eliminate toxins, reduce stress, ease anxiety), it also greatly impacts our muscles,[4] and therefore our workout.

    Flooding your muscles with rich oxygen will only keep them healthy, while the cardio benefit will get you warmed up to take on the more challenging postures in a flow yoga class. This prevents injuries and cramping.

    The best example of energizing cardio in flow yoga is the Sun Salutation sequence. Each pose is completed on an inhale or an exhale, until the sequence is finished. One full sequence may be repeated several times, encouraging you to take fuller and deeper breaths. The cycles warm up and loosen the body and prepare the muscles for stationary poses that are held longer.

    Here’s how to do a Sun Salutation Flow:

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    Due to the Sun Salutations, the muscles are not thrown into a challenging workout, but rather primed and prepared with energizing breath.

    Why is this important, you ask? Because happy muscles are warmed-up muscles.

    The Best Thing About Flow Yoga

    The best thing about practicing flow yoga? You’re building strength and flexibility.

    Strength and flexibility are like the Mecca of a wholesome workout routine. Before we get into why this is important, let’s break these two down individually to see how they stand up on their own:

    Meet Strong Stan

    Strong Stan is at the gym, doing bicep curls with massive dumbbells. His muscles have peaked in size, and he proudly displays them.

    While he loves to lift weights, Strong Stan often skips stretching or warm-ups. He just doesn’t see how that could help him continue his muscle gains, so he jumps right into a heavy workout.

    While it’s not evident to a passerby, Stan’s muscles are hurting. Without sufficient flexibility or deliberate stretching, Stan’s muscles are shortening and getting tighter. This eventually leads to joint injuries,[5] because un-stretched muscles have limited range of motion.

    Big muscles are a sure indicator of strength, but here’s the kicker – choosing not to prioritize flexibility will keep them inherently at risk.

    Meet Flexible Fiona

    Flexible Fiona is in a flow yoga class, easing herself into a backbend.[6] She effortlessly gets into the pose, and “hangs” out there for a few breaths while the teacher cues the class.

    Even though the teacher instructs the students to engage their glutes and be mindful that this is an active pose, Flexible Fiona opts otherwise, and relaxes into the posture by sacrificing the strength she ought to be building.

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    To many in the class, Fiona’s execution of the backbend would be a success – maybe even something to envy. However, what Fiona doesn’t realize is that her excessive flexibility is actually a detriment to her joints.[7]

    Flexibility has been defined as the “absolute range of motion” by Tony Gummerson, Martial Arts instructor. For people who are naturally flexible, that line of absolute range is often blurry and, in practice, overlooked.

    It’s very easy for Fiona to go above and beyond her range of motion, since her flexibility parameters are much wider than what Strong Stan may experience in a similar pose.

    Because she doesn’t feel the stretch in the same degree of motion as other students in class, Fiona has to push the envelope of her flexibility. This puts too much pressure on the joints that are already overworked, and it overstretches the muscles that are now prone to tearing.

    Your goal is to create muscle and joint balance and wholeness.

    What Strong Stan and Flexible Fiona have in common is that they’re both missing vital pieces of muscle awareness.

    In Stan’s case, heavy and tight muscles crave flexibility. Without it, not only would Stan hit a plateau in his gains because of a sure injury, but he would miss out on having the lean and toned muscles that we all want to have.

    In Fiona’s case, her overstretched muscles are not getting a workout at all. Rather, her excessive flexibility is resting on her joints, which leads to definite injury.

    So what can you do? It’s quite simple.

    You have to give your muscles the opposite of what they’re used to.

    If you’re a Stan and hate stretching, focusing on your flexibility is key. You will lengthen your tight muscles, and you’ll create new muscle memory by practicing routines that are new to you and your muscle groups.

    If you’re a Fiona and hate strengthening, focusing on this priority is vital. Your muscles are used to being passive as you stretch, so shaking up the usual and putting them to work will not only keep you injury-free, but that much closer to the muscle gains you’ve been looking for.

    Fortunately, flow yoga is the whole package, and can be the one-stop-shop for both Stan and Fiona.

      Final Thoughts

      If you’re serious about using flow yoga to supplement your workout routine to boost gains, sign up for a class at your local gym or yoga studio. There are a number of styles of yoga to try, but as we’ve discussed in this article, the Vinyasa style is your best bet to complement a moderate exercise regimen.

      Many studios offer beginner-style Vinyasa classes, where the instructor will explain the basics, and break down the sequences in a pace that is suitable for entry-level students. From here, the student can build upon their practice, and opt for more challenging, fast-paced classes, such as Power Flow or Ashtanga.

      Working out is a lesson in teaching your muscles. The gains that we grow are the result of that experience, and it all comes down to conditioning our body in a way that is healthy, efficient, and balanced.

      With a practice like flow yoga, we can offer supplemental training to our current regimen that will work our muscles in ways that are new, refreshing, and “surprising.” This method will keep our muscles toned and lean, as long as we prioritize the balance between strength and flexibility to ensure that we’re meeting both of these needs. Our muscle gains and body health depend on it.

      More Resources About Yoga and Fitness

      Featured photo credit: Edit Sztazics via unsplash.com

      Reference

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