Yoga is taking a new place in your fitness routine: at the end of the toughest workouts. Give yourself 10 minutes and you will reap a riot of benefits. Easy enough, right?
Think of yoga as the dessert at the end of your workout. It gradually returns your body to its natural resting state, which is a wonderful way to prevent cardiovascular and muscular mishaps.
This post workout “dessert” will allow you to regain control of your breath, open up your body, and quiet your mind. That really is the cherry on top of a boxing, indoor cycling or boot camp workout.
Yoga Benefits After A Tough Workout
Research shows a single bout of yoga can reduce post-workout muscle soreness, thanks to improved flexibility. Its restorative ways will leave you feeling very content and satiated — physically, mentally and emotionally.
Yoga gives your muscles a chance to relax and lengthen after they’ve been contracting throughout your workout, which should help you maintain range of motion even after intense exercise.
Yoga also helps lower your heart rate, so you can enter recovery mode faster. In other words, you’ll be in better shape to max out your next workout, whatever it may be.
The mental benefits deserve a shout-out too. When you go-go-go during your session, then depart before cooling down, you don’t get the full de-stressing perks of your hard work. Exercise excites the nervous system, while a subdued yoga flow calms it. That’s crucial to finishing your workout feeling optimistic, peaceful, and inspired – and hopefully, a little more appreciative of what your body just did for you.
Yoga In 10
Give yourself just 10 minutes! Directly after your workout, focus on slowing your breath bit by bit. Inhale for three seconds, hold for three, then exhale for three; continue until you’re inhaling, holding, and exhaling for six breaths. This gradually gets you from panting heavily to calm and focused.
Perform this flow of yoga poses in order, starting with your Vinyasa and returning to it between every sequence. Repeat the sequence on the other side, vinyasa included, until you've made it to your final sequence.
Optional: end with a minute or two in savasana (lying on your back).
Start in a pushup position, hands under your shoulders. Keep your core engaged and elbows close to your sides, bend your elbows to slowly lower your body in one straight line until your arms form a 90-degree angle to the floor.
Plank: hands under your shoulders and feet hip distance apart.
Four-Limbed Staff Pose: exhale as you lower your body toward the floor, hovering about four inches above your mat. Keep your elbows tucked in toward your sides.
Upward Facing Dog Pose: Inhale as you draw your chest forward and straighten your arms. Draw your shoulders back and lift your heart to the sky. Press through the tops of your feet, lifting your thighs off the floor and fully engaging your leg muscles. Keep your elbows tucked in toward your sides.
Downward Facing Dog Pose: Exhale as you lift your hips and roll over your toes, placing the soles of your feet on the floor. Ground down through your hands and the soles of your feet as you lengthen your spine. Lift your belly and sit bones to the sky.
Warrior 2 Pose: From downward dog, place your right foot between your hands. Ground your heels and lift up to stand. Bend your right knee and angle your left foot to face the top left corner of your mat. Extend your arms horizontally in opposite direction.
Add an arm stretch: lift your right arm and bend your elbow to rest your palm on your upper back. Place your left palm on your right elbow. Push your hips slightly forward to feel a stretch in your right side.
Re-extend your arms to move into Triangle Pose.
Triangle Pose: Push your right food into the mat as you straighten your right leg. Shift both hips back as you tilt your upper body forward and reach for the front of the room with your right hand. Rest your right hand on your shin or ankle and reach your left arm toward the ceiling.
Repeat your Vinyasa and move into Sequence Two.
Pyramid Pose: From downward dog, left your right leg up and step your right food behind your right hand. Step your left foot in about a foot, feet staggered. Lift up to standing, keeping your his facing forward. Keeping your feet in place, turn your entire torso to face the same direction as your front foot. Exhaling, fold at the hips and extend your torso over your front leg.
Revolved Triangle Pose: Place your left hand to the left of your right foot, then raise your right arm directly up as you twist your torso toward the ceiling, pushing your hips back.
Repeat your Vinyasa and Repeat Sequence One.
Complete your Vinyasa, Sequence One, Vinyasa, Sequence Two and repeat as many times as you would like. It will be an excellent stretch, feel refreshing and drastically reduce injury risk. Have fun!
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods