Make the most of your workout!
Today I took a 2 hour Yoga workshop, primarily on the use of yoga for physical, mental, and stress therapay. Given my issues with sleep lately, I learned some really great techniques for calming the mind and slowing down. Mostly, the class was a great reminder of why we do certain yoga postures and the importance of BREATHING.
I won’t go into the details of yoga breathing, or pranayama, and if you haven’t ever done yoga before I HIGHLY encourage it especially if you are a strength trainer, cardio junkee, or all around gym rat. Adding Yoga to your workout schedule can help in so many ways add great value to your other fitness activities.
But today, as mentioned, I’ll talk a little more about how you can use Yoga breathing methods to help with your post-workout stretch.
The basics of Yoga breathing is in the “ujjai” – this is the “ocean sound” of breath created by actively inhaling and exhaling through the nose – slowly and deeply. If you activate your core to move the breath, and think about focusing the air on the back and top of your mouth, you will get this sound of oceanic breathing. Another way to practice this is with mouth open – as if you are fogging up a mirror.
Using this very concentrated breathing pattern will really help in your post-workout “Cool Down”. The slow breath will help return your heart rate to resting, and will also help your body recover and release carbon dioxide and lactic acid.
With regard to the stretch – I am NOT a fan of static stretching, EVER. I always do dynamic stretches, before and after my workout. Dynamic simply means you don’t hold the stretch very long. PRe workout I do more ‘ballistic’ or active stretching – where i am moving through the stretch like arm circles, gentle lunges, etc.. Post workout, I hold the stretch a little longer – and here is where the breathing comes in – i hold the stretch only as long as the exhale. On the inhale, I release the stretch, and on the next exhale try to get deeper into the stretch.
Here’s how YOU can benefit from this technique:
1) Following your last exercise in your workout, begin by starting your “Yoga breathing”. Take 5 big deap “ujjai” breaths – counting to 5 on the inhale and 5 on the exhale. (Just remember 5-5-5). This will begin to bring your heart rate down.
2) Determine your stretches (you can do shoulder crosses, hamstring stretch, etc.. – whatever you need to stretch based on your workout).
3) Getting into your stretch position, inhale in deeply, then exhale and stretch. Inhale to release the stretch, and Exhale to stretch again. To this 1 final time for a total of 3 good stretches for each muscle group you worked that day.
4) Really try to concentrate on the muscle you are stretching – do not hold it, but release it. Do not sink into your joints – but relax the muscle and let it do its job to release.
What do you think of using Yoga techniques in your workout? I’d love to hear from you!