In 1977, almost 40 years ago, the movie “Pumping Iron” was released, becoming a classic and a must-watch in the bodybuilding subculture. In the movie we can see Arnold Schwarzenegger with a ballet instructor, practicing ballet moves for improving posture, posing and anatomically correct positions. But in that time, bodybuilding was getting the mainstream attention and the connections between the tough weight lifting and somewhat more gentle physical practices wasn’t made, at that point.
With regular yoga exercises you could improve your weight lifting training by becoming more flexible, endurable, relaxed and stress relieved, balanced and functional.
For putting on muscles, power lifting trainings are a good way to go. Yoga, on the other hand, helps you relax those muscles and feel like you performed a system restart after leaving the yoga class. Certain yoga styles are quite challenging, such as Ashtanga and Power yoga and performing hard exercises in which you stretch the longer muscles, you make yourself more flexible in muscle regions that are important for weight lifting (spine, lower back, shoulders and arms). That leads your body into a state of increased weight lifting performances, mainly endurance and speed. Natural food supplements are suitable both for weight lifting and exercising yoga. They provide you with extra proteins and necessary amino acids. The most frequent weight lifting injuries are shoulder injuries, related to the rotator cuff. Numerous researches on treating rotator cuff injuries have been conducted so far. According to Jeanie Lerche Davis (former WebMD Health & Care writer), treatments such as extracorporeal shock wave therapy (applying energy shock waves to the rotator cuff area) can be very effective, and surgical treatment procedures are also very common. According to a research in Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, yoga exercises are perfect for strengthening rotator cuff muscles (teres minor, infraspinatus, supraspinatus and subscapularis). It was found that yoga posture quickly treats the rotator cuff syndrome and reduces pain, on short and long terms, depending on the patient. These injuries are very serious, so focus on preventing them. Many bodybuilders concentrate on muscle development and neglect this seemingly unimportant body part.
Correct body posture is also taught in yoga. Yoga poses require correct posture and perfect anatomical alignment because many of the poses are held for a certain period of time. With having no correct posture, you wouldn’t be able to endure taking these positions without experiencing pain. Correct body posture is a fundamental element in weight lifting. It is good for aesthetic reasons and for avoiding dangerous back injuries as well. Yoga poses build up core strength, essential for supporting you body and maintaining different poses.
For weight lifters, starting yoga practice can be a little tricky, says Ivan Blazquez, personal trainer and bodybuilder. Sitting in the basic cross-legged position is harder for a bodybuilder due to tighter hip muscles, so lower back muscles have to put in extra effort in order maintain the neutral spine position. And that is why this seemingly simple sitting pose is actually an active stretching exercise. Weight lifters won’t be able to achieve the flexibility level of a yogi, due to their musculature, but by practicing yoga and stretching their body, they would achieve elasticity of an average person. Yoga poses may serve as tests and assessments for flexibility. Being unable to perform Appley Scratch Test mean reduced shoulder flexibility; Cross-Legged Pose – poor core strength; Overhead Squat – weak joint motion, and further on.
Having an inflexible body part means that that area is your weak spot, susceptible to injury. Inflexibility is also connected to reduced ROM (range of motion). By getting flexible, you reduce the risk of injury, improve your functionality and range of motion, but also affect your mind, achieving stress relieved and relaxed state of mind.
We may say that everything stated before is aimed to achieving total body balance. Learning to take anatomically correct positions, improving body posture, getting stronger, being able to endure in yoga positions, achieving great flexibility and elasticity and also achieving a clean and calm mental state – are all predispositions for creating total body balance.
For those who are getting started: if you are new to yoga, take your time and gradually get to know it. Choose an authentic style which you find suitable for you and explore all the benefits that you may have from it. After a while, start combining it with weight power exercises, experiment and see how your body reacts. Yoga increases body awareness, trust yourself and listen to your body.