Yoga & Cross-Training: A Holistic Approach for Enhancing Vitality, Longevity and Overall Well-Being
BLOG / September 12, 2023
While yoga alone offers a plethora of benefits, supplementing it with cross-training can take your practice to new heights. In this blog, we will explore the benefits of cross-training (a term used to describe how incorporating different forms of exercises can help improve your overall well-being) and how it can help you build more strength, stability and stamina on and off the mat.
Before we dive into cross-training, let’s take a moment to appreciate the extraordinary practice of yoga. Yoga is more than a form of movement or exercise, it’s a comprehensive approach to health and well-being. Its primary aim is to unify the body, mind and spirit through a combination of poses (asanas), breathwork (pranayama) and meditation.
While the practice of yoga alone can help us cultivate physical strength, mental clarity, and spiritual harmony, incorporating different modalities of movement can further enhance its benefits. Below are five benefits of supplementing your yoga practice with cross-training. I hope they inspire you to implement cross-training into your established yoga practice.
- Improve Strength, Balance and Flexibility
While yoga promotes strength and flexibility, cross-training can take these attributes to the next level. Incorporating weightlifting and resistance training will build muscular strength which will help you hold poses with strength and stability. Additionally, incorporating Pilates and any mobility classes will further enhance your balance and flexibility, helping you move through your yoga practice with grace and confidence.
- Prevent Injuries
Cross-training can help reduce the risk of yoga-related injuries by addressing muscle imbalances and overuse. By engaging different muscle groups and training in different modalities of movements, you reduce the likelihood of straining or injuring specific muscle groups and joints. This is one of the reasons I started supplementing my yoga practice with resistance training to rehab a recurring hamstring and shoulder injury. Take my word for it, cross-training will help you feel strong in your yoga practice and make you less susceptible to injuries both on and off the mat.
- Boost Cardiovascular Health
Yoga primarily focuses on low-impact movements and does not provide the cardiovascular workout that activities like High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), running, cycling or swimming can offer. My favorite way to add cardio to my fitness regimen is by taking a HIIT class or going on a run. Try it for yourself, do something that will elevate your heart rate, this will improve your cardiovascular health and lead to increased stamina and endurance on and off the mat.
- Enhance Mental Clarity and Focus
One of the key benefits of cross-training is improved mental clarity and focus. Activities like walking, hiking, running and dancing are a form of moving meditations, allowing you to clear your mind and sharpen your concentration. These mental benefits can directly translate to your yoga mat, helping you stay more present during your yoga and meditation practice.
- Transcend Plateaus
Many yogis often encounter plateaus in their practice, leaving them feeling stuck, uninspired and bored. Cross-training can break through these plateaus by introducing new ways of moving your body and stimulating different muscle groups and energy systems. Don’t be afraid to spice it up and experiment new modalities of movement, afterall variety is the spice of life and life is too short to not try new things.
To conclude, cross-training is a valuable tool for yogis looking to elevate their practice and explore a more holistic approach to fitness and well-being. By incorporating diverse physical activities into your routine, you can improve your strength, prevent injuries, boost your cardiovascular health, overcome plateaus and enhance the quality of your life. So here is my invitation to dip your toe in the cross-training water and embrace the journey of self-discovery and growth that awaits. I cannot wait to hear how your yoga practice begins to evolve and flourish.
P.S. Have you taken my Yoga Sculpt Class on the YogaWorks App? This class blends traditional yoga poses with strength training, Pilates and HIIT. It’s one of my favorite ways to cross-train. Come check it out, you will leave feeling strong, energized and a little sweaty!