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Yoga Can Be One Of Your Most Effective And Complete Recovery Tools

Yoga for recovery might be the secret to faster recovery and improved performance. 

Yoga, once thought of as a practice reserved for hippies and spiritual gurus, is now being recognized by cyclists and runners as a powerful tool for boosting athletic recovery. 

From relieving muscle soreness to enhancing mobility, bringing yoga into your recovery program could be just what you need to take your performance to the next level.

Yoga Can Be One Of Your Most Effective And Complete Recovery Tools

Yoga improves endurance performance

Yoga has been shown to improve athletic recovery in a number of ways. 

  1. Yoga can improve mobility.

Increased mobility can lead to an improved range of motion, which can make it easier to perform exercises with proper form and technique. 

In turn, this can reduce your risk of injury.

  1. Yoga can help to improve your balance and coordination. 

By moving through a series of yoga poses, you can develop additional coordination and balance which can help make your workouts easier. 

  1. Yoga can improve your breathing efficiency.

Proper breathing is important for all types of exercise, but it’s especially crucial for endurance activities like running and cycling. 

That’s because efficient breathing helps improve your oxygen uptake, which can delay fatigue and help you maintain a higher level.

If you practice your breathing and use your breath to guide your movement, you’ll be able to extend your range of motion and allow your muscles to heal.

Breathing practice aids recovery

Studies have shown that yoga can help reduce inflammation, improve the range of motion, and speed up recovery time from injuries. 

Simply moving with your breathing to open, particularly, your hips and torso can improve your body’s capacity to eliminate all the toxins and crap you built up from training.

Plus, practicing nasal breathing during yoga for recovery can stimulate the vagus nerve, which, in turn, can settle your nervous system. 

So breathwork is a critical part of yoga for recovery. 

Yoga flow seems to help endurance athletes

There are different types of yoga, and not all of them are effective for runners and cyclists who want to improve their athletic recovery. 

Hatha yoga, for example, is a slow-paced form of yoga that focuses on breathing and holding each pose for several seconds. 

Vinyasa flow yoga is a more active form of yoga that involves moving through poses in a fluid, continuous motion. 

A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that vinyasa flow yoga can help improve running economy (the amount of oxygen you use while running at a given pace), which can lead to better performance.

Bikram may not be best choice

Bikram or “hot” yoga is another popular form of yoga, but it’s not necessarily ideal for runners or cyclists looking to improve their recovery since the heat can cause dehydration. 

Plus hot yoga classes tend to be really hard sessions. 

I wouldn’t recommend much hot yoga during training unless you use that class as a hard workout.

Several ways to incorporate yoga into your training

There are many ways to incorporate yoga into a training program. 

Here are a few suggestions

  1. Add a yoga session to your weekly routine. A 60-minute class once a week can make a big difference in your recovery.
  2. Incorporate some basic yoga poses into your warm-up and cool-down routines. Sun Salutations are a great way to warm up the muscles before exercise, and Child Pose can be effective for cooling down afterward.Doing low lunges with your breathing - inhale and bring your hips back, exhale and roll them forward - can start you on the road to recovery with more hip movement.
  3. Use yoga props such as blocks, straps, and blankets to help you get deeper into poses and maintain proper form.
  4. Listen to your body and modify poses as needed. It’s critical not to push yourself too hard when you’re trying to use yoga for recovery. We’re not trying to build muscle or get deep into a Triangle pose.
  5. Find a style of yoga that you enjoy and stick with it. 

There are many different styles of yoga, so it’s important to find one that fits your needs and interests.

Yin Yoga can be an effective tool for recovery but sometimes holding the poses for as long as Yin asks can eventually turn into a strength workout.

Good yoga poses for recovery

Five good yoga poses for recovery include:

  1. Child Pose: A resting pose that relaxes the spine, hips, and shoulders and gently opens the chest to promote deep breathing.
  2. Reclined Butterfly: This helps to release tension in the hips, thighs, and lower back.
  3. Low Lunge or Lizard Lunge
  4. Legs Up The Wall: This gentle inversion helps to reduce inflammation in the legs, back, and neck while calming the mind and body.
  5. Reclined Twist: Helps to stretch out tight muscles while aiding digestion as well as relieving stress and anxiety.

Yoga can improve your long-term health

Researchers have now started to uncover the science behind how yoga can help cyclists and runners improve their recovery from intense workouts or competitions. 

By improving flexibility, muscle strength, balance, and posture, as well as reducing stress levels, yoga can be a powerful tool in any endurance athlete's arsenal for helping them reach their goals. 

Not only can yoga improve your recovery, but it can also help you improve your balance, stability, and strength as well.

Here are three things to consider with yoga as a recovery tool for cyclists and runners:

  1. Focus on movement and breathing. Move with your breath to allow your nervous system to calm down and start working to aid recovery.
  2. Do short movement sessions regularly. For example, a 10-minute session four days a week is better than one long session.
  3. Remember your purpose for the session: Yoga for recovery is not the same as yoga for strength!

Want to know more about what you can achieve?

If you liked this article, please share it with others.

Do you have questions? Email me at paulw at SimpleEnduranceCoaching.com

I support a limited number of cyclists and runners achieve their goals with more strength, endurance, and mobility. 

Contact me or sign up for Virtual Coffee so we can discuss your goals, ask questions, and talk about making your endurance training more effective, fun, and Simple.

You can also opt-in to receive my weekly blog posts about what works in endurance sports. 

Paul Warloski is a: 

  • USA Cycling Level 3 Coach
  • RRCA Running Coach
  • Training Peaks Level 2 Coach
  • RYT-200 Yoga Instructor
  • Certified Personal Trainer

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