Jan 1 2018

We Should All Do Yoga…

...And a Lot of It!

As owner of an athletic training center, I see many types of recreation enthusiasts.  We see accomplished endurance athletes such as cyclists, runners and triathletes.  We also see strength athletes who like to test their anaerobic and aerobic engines with dynamic lifts similar to what you see at a Cross-Fit gym.  We work with all types of individuals on movement patterns to rectify dysfunction in the body while improving motor skills.  

We also have a yoga studio.  I continually recognize that people with optimal mechanics are the ones who have a regular yoga practice.  These people are easy to spot because they have correct postural carriage and excellent body awareness.

This is not to indicate that other activities are not beneficial.  They are tremendously helpful, but yoga is often overlooked by people looking to optimize their health.  A regular yoga practice actually helps other types of activities more than you may think.  If you develop better posture and mobility you will be safer, stronger and have less incidence of injury during other workout sessions.  A routine yoga practice translates to better core strength, economy of motion and assimilation of oxygen (this is especially important for endurance athletes).  A yoga practice helps create awareness of your body’s mechanics and movement.  Without this, many people build fitness upon dysfunction, which often leads to imbalance and chronic injury.

Yoga builds strength

Pretty much every activity we do in the Vail Valley is a body weight exercise: riding your bike up a hill, making strides on your morning run, or driving with force out of the apex of your ski turn.  All of these require functional strength of controlled forces.  An example of this would be stabilizing your core before propelling yourself into any motion.  It isn’t uncommon for a person who outwardly looks strong to practice yoga and find that many basic yoga holds are very challenging.  But with regular practice they will be able to access a nervous response to fire more muscle fiber, creating strength and stability without adding mass. This type of true functional strength is necessary for a long, athletic life.

You will lose weight…and keep it off

Data shows people with a regular yoga practice, (this means practicing three or more times per week), have the healthiest body mass index of people in their age group.  There are reasons behind this that may surprise you.  Yes, a vigorous yoga practice does burn calories, and if you really challenge yourself you will also get some EPOC value to help burn more calories throughout the rest of the day.  But the thing that really makes a difference for yogis versus the general population is how a yoga practice changes our relationship with food.  Generally, weight trouble isn’t as much about lack of movement as it is about over-consumption.  Often times, over-consumption isn’t based on physical hunger. Habitual patterns and emotional eating usually cause us to over-consume, thereby creating excess fat mass.  Yoga is empowering.  It helps you tap into what is important to you and begin to feel comfortable with yourself.  Most yogis naturally find they don’t fall into the typical pitfalls of mindless eating or cravings.   The weight just starts to fall off; and with this strong emotional and mental mindset - it stays off.

Yoga keeps you young

In addition to graceful movement, I have noticed that people who practice regularly possess a physical and emotional demeanor much younger than their chronological age.  They have a presence that radiates youthfulness and vitality.  Our bodies adapt to the positions they most frequently visit. If we spend years in a desk chair or with our heads pitched forward reading computers or phones, the body gets stuck in these positions and falls into a muscular amnesia of not being able to hold itself and move in the way it was designed.  Yoga helps activate proper musculature and open tight areas to improve posture and gait.  You may have heard that the root cause of nearly all chronic illness is inflammation. A recent university medical school trial supported the notion that yoga has healing and anti-inflammatory properties.  It used two primary inflammatory markers: CRP and IL-6 that are linked to most disease.  A regular yoga practice showed a 20% reduction in CRP and a 22% reduction in IL-6.  Other markers such as blood pressure, endocrine response and resting heart rate also saw dramatic benefits.

Yoga makes you a better athlete

If you analyze top athletes in any sport, you will find one thing is contiguous - they have the ability to know where to create tension and where to create relaxation.  And they’re able to do this quickly and concurrently in different muscle groups.  This is the key for athletic body awareness.  We have all taken an athletic buddy up to ski or snowboard.  They are physically fit, and in just 30 minutes of trying to learn a new skill they are cooked and panting.  You can see them holding tension and being rigid as they go through the learning curve.  Versus a seasoned skier who knows how to hold eccentric tension as they flex into a turn then drive with concentric tension out of the turn, all the while maintaining an element of relaxation.  This allows them to be powerful when it’s needed but relaxed enough to complete many top-to-bottom runs.  Think of yoga as a practice to help connect to your body in this way.  The connection enables you to perform at a higher level regardless of the sport.

You will live a happier life

Isn’t this a great reason to do anything with regularity?  Yoga is beyond what occurs physically on the mat.  Connecting movement and breathing is incredibly therapeutic.   Regular yoga helps you clear away unnecessary chatter in a busy life.  You will find it helps you think with a clearer mind, and you often leave a class having exchanged problems for possibilities.  Yoga stimulates the region in the brain where positive thoughts and happy feelings originate, so with practice this disposition flows over into all aspects of your life.

If you haven’t tried yoga, I highly recommend it.  We have several wonderful yoga studios in the Valley.  Give yourself one full month and commit to two or three classes per week.  Talk to the studio and let them know you are new and if you have a history of injury.  They will help guide you to the classes and instructors best suited for you.  Joining a studio provides a wonderful support system and knowledge base for beginning a regular yoga practice

Rod Connolly is an exercise physiologist and owner of Dogma Athletica.  Dogma Athletica is a full training center in Edwards and has a multi-disciplinary yoga studio. To contact Rod call Dogma Athletica at 970-688-4433

Dogma Athletica - 970-688-4433  www.dogmathletica.com 

A multi-disciplinary yoga studio. Focus includes a strong connection between a physical practice and mindful intent.