I’ve been trying to make it to the gym more often to help strengthen the muscles I don’t often use in yoga. Much of my focus is on my upper body because, as this Yoga International article points out, many yoga poses utilize the pushing action on the arms and shoulders (think chaturanga), and not the pulling action (hence why many yogis looked ripped but can’t do pull-ups). Lifting weights has been a pretty good way for me to complement the physical aspect of my yoga practice with exercises that help keep my muscles strong.
When I do get to the gym, I like to do lateral pull downs, cable flys, tricep pushdowns, side raises and front raises with dumbbells, and whatever else tickles my fancy. I find that I can be pretty sore the next day if I’m not careful — I already tend to hold tension in my neck and shoulders. To reduce soreness, I make sure to pay attention to my form as I lift, and I always follow my workout with some light stretching to release tense muscles.
Here a few stretches I’ve been incorporating into my post-workout routine:
- Start in Warrior One on the right side.
- Interlace your fingers at your low back; you can use a strap or towel to close the space between your hands.
- Inhale, straighten your elbows, and roll your shoulders back.
- Exhale and fold forward, bringing your torso in line with your right thigh.
- Press your feet down and in opposite directions to help stabilize your stance.
- Stay for five breaths, then switch sides.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Bend your knees and fold forward, sliding your palms under the soles of your feet.
- Bend your knees and straighten your spine as you breathe in.
- Straighten your knees and fold forward as you breathe out. To deepen the stretch ib my wrists and shoulders, I draw my elbows toward my shins.
- Hold for five breaths.
- Begin in seated with your legs extended before you.
- Place your hands about six to twelve inches behind your hips, with your fingertips facing your toes.
- Inhale, lifting your hips and bringing the soles of your feet toward the mat.
- Exhale, and allow your head to drop back.
- Hold here for three to five breaths, then release your hips back to the floor.
Do you cross train? If so, do you incorporate any yoga poses in your post-workout routine?