There are plenty of things that shouldn’t compliment one another but actually do. Think about it? Did you ever really think that Gary Neville would work well with Jamie Carragher and have you ever tried a deep fried Mars bar? No, we haven’t either but we’ve heard they’re delicious. Well, you can add another pairing to the list now as weightlifting becomes yin to yoga’s yang.
These might seem like two odd bedfellows and the concept of the jacked power lifter could not befarther away from the becalmed yogi as one searches to chisel his outer frame with a guttural grunt, while the other searches for inner peace with some Sanskrit.
However, there is a certain amount of enlightenment happening as gym-weary weight lifters, looking to escape their physical and psychological plateaus, begin to realise that asana can actually help revitalize their resistance programmes. The partnership seems to have been born from the cross fit revolution and the fact that guys are now searching for functional strength and fitness rather than just boulder shoulders and seam-straining biceps.
What yoga has known for a while is that flexibility and mobility are vital for increased strength because muscles work against one another - with antagonist muscles controlling movement, while agonist muscles initiate the movement in the first place. However, pumping iron can cause the two muscle groups to compete and every rep can have an impact on flexibility and mobility, which are vital for staying injury free and getting the gains that are every lifter’s holy grail.
Ben Harrison is a 29-year-old yogi, with a background in Brazilian Ju Jitsu and MMA, who teaches a Yoga For Lifting class at GymBox. “The class is essentially like a vinyasa flow or hatha class with a PVC pipe” explains Ben. “We can use the pipe to mobilise the shoulders and also mobilise the wrists. A lot of big strong guys and some big strong girls come along to increase their range of motion because if you can be strong at a greater range of motion than required by the lift then you decrease your potential for injury”
And it’s not just the t-shirt muscles that are commonly associated with the bro show that yoga can help with – it can also help guys achieve a stronger more sculpted core. “Uddiyana Bandha is the drawing up and in below the belly button” explains Ben. “Whenever you perform a muscularly engaging stretch of the body you want to be lengthening out the lower back and not compressing the disks on either side. So Uddiyana Bandha will make your twists longer and your back bends more comfortable and it will emphasize the transverse abdominus. These are the corset muscles of the body so they will make the waist aesthetically smaller.”
So, if the closest you’ve been to Big Toe Pose is bending down to pick up a protein shake maybe it’s time you get off the bench and get down on the mat and see what no pain can do for your gains.
We would like to give credit to gymbox.com & doyouyoga.com for the images used in this article.