November 13, 2017
pool-banner-1-1280x550.jpg

Steven Stiefel

Don’t be afraid to be that guy in the yoga class. It just might be the best decision you ever made for your muscles and overall athletic development!

Years ago, just as Jay Cutler was ascending to the top of the bodybuilding world, he told me about a secret he’d recently begun to incorporate into his training. It was yoga! He credited his improved flexibility with his ability to train more efficiently and avoid injury. And then he won the Mr. Olympia title.

Today, there are more yoga studios and yoga classes than ever, but a lot of people—men in particular—remain confused about what happens inside those classes and how they should feel about it. Is it stretching, meditation, some combination thereof, or something else entirely? Could it be the secret to unlocking your tight hips and superhuman athletic potential, or will it just make you sprout a man bun and go all new agey?

Wonder no more! Here’s why you have nothing to fear—and everything to gain—from adding a little yoga to your life.

What Do I Need To Begin?

  • A mat(don’t rely on the studio mat)
  • Shorts that don’t ride up too high
  • A shirt that doesn’t move too much
  • An open mind
  • Willingness to be humbled and ask questions
  • A good teacher

1. Yoga Increases Range Of Motion

You may think that range of motion is the same thing as flexibility, but it’s a little different. Many guys know they have a tight muscle group or two—most frequently the hamstrings, glutes, pecs, and shoulders. But they may not realize the limitations any of these place on their ability to train through a full range of motion. The more you train them through a limited range of motion, the more limited you become as a lifter—and a functional human being.

One of Cutler’s limitations was his tight shoulder joints, which he found didn’t allow him to stretch his pectorals fully during pressing movements, which in turn reduced his ability to build chest mass. Increased flexibility opened him up to a better pressing motion—and the type of development that helped him eventually win four Sandow trophies.

A well-designed yoga class emphasizes moves that open up virtually all of these problem areas, because everyone, everywhere, can benefit from opening up their hunched shoulders and tight hips. Consider this quality movement training of the first order.

2. Yoga Improves Breathing

You might think that you breathe perfectly fine. But you’d probably find yourself challenged by how much yoga asks you to focus on inhaling and exhaling, particularly while you’re attempting to hold tough poses in unfamiliar movement planes.

As a yoga class gets more intense, the breathing slows down rather than speeding up. This teaches you to take in long, slow breaths when you need them most, expanding your lung capacity to allow you to take in the same or greater amount of oxygen from fewer inhalations.

This is one reason you might feel a kind of bliss akin to the legendary “runner’s high” during a yoga class. More importantly, you’re training your body to oxygenate itself more efficiently. That’s important for cardio activity, strength training, and yes, muscle-building.

3. Yoga Strengthens Stabilizers

Every yogi out there has a story (or twenty) about that time they saw a strong, muscular guy walk into class and get totally owned by a routine the smaller, less muscular women were rocking. Why does this happen? Because that guy, who no doubt earned his physique in the classic two-feet-on-the-ground, two-hands-on-the-bar power stance, got shown that he remains weak in his stabilizer muscles.

Yoga includes many unique moves in addition to basics such as down dog, plank, and warrior variations. Depending on the whim of your teacher, it can also include lateral, twisting, and spinal-arch moves, as well as plenty of balance challenges—all of which are not typically present in lifting exercises.

These moves force your body to work in new and unaccustomed ways, strengthening smaller stabilizer muscles and increasing joint health along the way. You’ll get stronger, sure, but you might also shore up a weak link that would otherwise lead you go get injured.

In other words, a good yoga class can cover a lot of the bases that you think you’re covering (but might not be) with your long, complicated pre-hab and mobility routines.

How Do I Program A Yoga Class?

Option 1
  • Day 1: Strength training
  • Day 2: Yoga
  • Repeat as much as possible
Option 2
  • Day 1: Strength training A
  • Day 2: Strength training B
  • Day 3: Yoga/active rest
Option 3
  • AM: Yoga, in a class or online
  • PM: Strength training
Option 4
  • During the day: Strength training
  • Nighttime: Yoga cool-down

4. Yoga Provides Active Rest

One of the challenges of being a committed athlete is figuring out what to do with an active-rest day. These are days where you can include activity, but you should refrain from typical workouts. You’re supposed to allow your body to heal and recover…but you don’t really want to.

Many Type-A athletes feel like they’ll go stir-crazy if they can’t perform some form of activity. Yoga is a perfect option for these days. You’ll likely find it far more challenging than you expect, but it doesn’t usually demand a lot of recovery time (although you might be sore the first few times).

In fact, a good rule of thumb is to start with a 60-minute, level-one yoga class. These are often available at full-service gyms. They’re a little rarer at yoga studios, where classes tend to be a little longer.

5. Yoga Balances You

This could mean a lot of things, but I’m not talking chakras here. First, yoga literally includes poses that help you improve your balance. One-legged poses, headstands, handstands, arm balances, and plenty of other tough challenges are all fair game. And no matter how many push-ups or bodyweight squats you can do, a good yoga teacher can find ways to make these expose your weaknesses.

Second, yoga encourages your body to move in unaccustomed ways by spending time in totally familiar postures. While athletes consider every workout to be beneficial—and rightfully so—most of us often end up performing the same types of movements too frequently. This is all well and good until that day comes when, all of a sudden, you can’t remember the last time you weren’t in pain.

I’ve heard it time and time again: “My back/hips/shoulders were always bugging me, but yoga made it 100 times better.” The only problem with that is that yoga works well enough that most of us stop doing it after experiencing its benefits.

6. Yoga Enhances Overall Health

Most athletes take as a given that their athletic activities are healthy, which, of course, they are. But training in the red all the time eventually causes wear and tear on the body, particularly without space for diverse movement and quality rest.

Yoga not only helps you feel good after hard training, but it provides other more distinct health advantages. More efficient breathing helps reduce blood pressure and lowers the stress response, for one. Yoga has also been shown to be excellent for helping to prevent or reduce problems associated with sciatica, carpal tunnel, or even rotator-cuff issues. In most cities, you can even find classes that are designed specifically for people rehabbing from injuries or with back pain.

Don’t take any of this to mean that yoga is “easy.” Sure, it can be sleepy and new-agey, but it can also give you a challenge that you totally didn’t see coming. But even when it’s intense, a well-run yoga class is somehow gentle on the body.

This is a great way for you to live a longer active life. Don’t fear it. It’s not weird, exotic, or demonic. Start at an appropriate level—even if that’s at the bottom—and give it a serious try. Then report back in the comments.

 


November 13, 2017
news-event-1280x548.jpg

Pilates vs Yoga – what is the difference? 

The purpose of Yoga is to unite the mind, body and spirit. Teachers of Yoga see the mind and body as one whole structure and if the techniques are used in the proper environment, Yoga can be a way to heal the body and help to find mental harmony. This is why Yoga is considered to be a therapeutic activity. It gives your body more flexibility and promotes relaxation even in the most stressful of times. The latter is the reason most people begin taking Yoga classes – to reduce stress.

In Yoga, several movements are preformed on an exercise mat and the weight of the body is used as a resistance for the exercise. This takes a great amount of focus and the flow in and out of each position is fluid. The movements are not what you would call workout moves; they are more like poses that are designed for different needs and purposes.

Pilates has many of the same goals in mind but the major difference between Pilates and Yoga is that in addition to mat work, there can be different exercise machines involved. Pilates works out the entire body in addition to the mind. The focus is on the core of the body so the rest can freely move and this makes makes your body stronger both on the inside and out. The balance is meant to be present between flexibility and strength and this results in stronger and leaner muscles. Many people see the value in both activities and this is why a whole new generation is choosing to incorporate both Yoga and Pilates into their lives.

How To Choose Between Yoga vs Pilates

  1. There are several different factors that you should be thinking about if you are deciding which is your preferred type of exercise – Pilates v Yoga. You may be thinking of taking up a relatively new type of exercise and are finding it difficult to decide between yoga and Pilates. The one that you choose will become a part of your life and the decision you will make will depend on the results that you would like to attain.
  2. Exercise has been proven helpful for individuals who are suffering from depression or anxiety. Yoga might be the most effective exercise to combat the illness because it focuses on the mind as well as the body. When comparing the differences between Pilates vs Yoga, the breathing techniques as you will find out, differ a lot! In yoga, the breathing exercises help you to achieve relaxation. Throughout Yoga routine it is important to continuously concentrate on how the breath is being employed. Sending the breath to areas that may be tight or are holding stress can help to relax these specific muscle groups in your body.
  3. With Pilates, the breath is used more as a technique of providing the muscles with the energy they need to exercise effectively. Concentrating on the breathing technique throughout Pilates will help you to manage the quantity of oxygen coming into the body and traveling to the muscles to help them become more relaxed.
  4. Yoga and Pilates both contain several poses that are suitable for toning the abdominal muscles. However, Pilates exercises are a lot more intense and results may be achieved much quicker than they might be if practicing yoga. Through frequent Pilates exercises, a flatter and firmer stomach can be achieved.
  5. For individuals with back pain, both yoga and Pilates poses can give glorious results for stronger and more supportive back muscles. Care has to be taken with some yoga poses as they will actually make the existing problems worse. When attending yoga classes, the yoga teacher will be able to offer advice to students with back problems.
  6. One of the main differences between Yoga and Pilates is that Yoga can be used for improving the flexibility of the body and it will also gradually increase the flexibility of your joints. Whereas Pilates focuses on trying to relax muscles which are tense and provide strengthening of the numerous muscles of the body.
  7. Yoga and Pilates are both wonderful for toning and strengthening all of the muscles groups in your body but when it comes to Pilates vs Yoga weight loss advantages, there is not a massive difference in how much weight you will lose. If you are trying to lose weight, you could try Pilates exercises using different Pilates machine which add the cardio and fitness element to your Pilates poses and will help you to burn additional calories.
  8. In the end, the easiest way do decide whether Pilates vs Yoga is best for you is to have a go a try both! Try one class of each and you will be able to see for yourself which one suits your needs and abilities better. Both Pilates and Yoga are very enjoyable way to strengthen your muscles, get your body in better shape, relieve stress and gain more flexibility.

Please consult with your doctor before you take yoga and Pilates class. Some of the poses may be dangerous for you if you have had surgery or suffer from any illness.

http://www.energypilatesfitness.com/pilates-vs-yoga.html