Yoga for Weightlifters
When you think of yoga and weightlifters, they might seem like opposite ends of the spectrum. Yoga evokes the idea of peaceful stretching, meditation, and perhaps some calming music, whereas weightlifting brings to mind grit, sweat, and sheer strength. However, weightlifters might find yoga to be very beneficial to their fitness goals. According to the American Council on Exercise, “flexibility is an important yet often overlooked component of a well-rounded fitness routine, especially for those who tend to gravitate to strength-based workouts. Adequate range of motion around the joints is imperative to perform loaded movement patterns safely and effectively using strength-training tools such as barbells and dumbbells. In addition to enhancing performance in the gym, incorporating movements into one’s workout routine that enhance joint stability and mobility will also address existing muscle imbalance and allow for greater ease and efficiency.” If you’re interested in improving your weightlifting through yoga, check out the poses below (but be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new diet or exercise regime):
● Downward Facing Dog (adho mukha svanasana): This hip opener is great for most practitioners and is a good base upon which to build a practice. To do this pose, put your hands and feet flat on the floor, essentially creating an inverted V with your body. Lift your hips up towards the ceiling while simultaneously pressing your heels into the floor, keeping your back straight.
● Cobra Pose (bhujangasana): Begin in a plank position. Lower yourself all the way to the floor and adjust your feet so that the tops of your feet are against the floor. As you inhale, push up on your hands and begin to lift your chest off of the floor. Be sure to only go as high as you can while still keeping your pelvis against the floor. Relax your shoulders and make sure to lower them and keep them out of your ears.
● Monkey Lunge (hanumanasana): Step forward into a lunge with your right knee directly over your right foot, keeping your left leg straight. Carefully lower your left knee to the ground and untuck your toes. Place your hands on your right knee and straighten your shoulders into alignment with your hips while you melt your left thigh towards the floor. For an added stretch, raise your arms above your head, keeping your shoulders square. Repeat on the other side.
● Lizard Pose (utthan pristhasana): Begin at the back of your mat with your feet together. Step forward into a lunge, keeping your right knee directly over your right foot and your left leg straight. Carefully bring your hands down to the floor inside your right knee. If your hips allow, lower yourself to your elbows, keeping your legs engaged in the lunge. Repeat on the other side.
● Standing Forward Bend (uttanasana): Begin by standing up straight with your feet rooted squarely below your hips. As you exhale, bend forward at the waist, bringing your chest to your thighs. If you need to, bend your knees slightly or support your hands on blocks beside your feet. Allow your upper body to relax and let your head hang down like a weight, stretching out your neck and shoulders. This is a particularly good pose if you carry a lot of tension in your upper back.
● Corpse Pose (savasana): Lie flat on your back, arms at your sides with palms facing up and your legs about hip width apart. Let your limbs relax as you close your eyes and focus on your breathing. This might at first glance seem like an overly simple pose, but it’s important to use this time to not only transition out of your yoga practice, but to check in with your body. Really listen to what your muscles are telling you; what is still tight, what feels looser, etc.
Worried your muscles are too big for yoga? Nothing could be further from the truth! Yoga is highly adaptable to every body type and even NFL players like J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans have been photographed doing some of the poses listed above. You can choose to practice yoga privately in your own home, but if you’ve never tried it before, it might behoove you to check out a class in your town. A certified instructor can guide you into the poses so you perform them correctly, plus give you m
 Matthews, Jessica. “Yoga for Weightlifters: 7 Poses for Increased Range of Motion.” ACE, American Council on Exercise, 15 Sept. 2015, www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/5652/yoga-for-weightlifters-7-poses-for-increased-range-of-motion.