Yoga has really gained popularity over the years here in North America. It has been practised for thousands of years in older civilizations and now we are reaping the rewards. In the fitness industry, we like yoga for its ability to help increase flexibility, range of motion and balance. We use it for post exercise work or to supplement a sport.
However, yoga poses are really meant to assist you in staying still for hours while meditating. Us North Americans have a hard time sitting still that long, for mental and physical reasons. And here I am adding in yoga to our mobility series.
There is so much more to yoga. The spiritual side creates space for us to be safe, clear, and work toward being enlightened. This work provides peace for you and might help with traumas that are either physical or mental.
I love yoga for all the fitness reasons. I feel that I breathe better afterwards, that tightness is addressed, and it’s more interesting than just stretching. We have talked about static stretching and dynamic movements that both help with flexibility and increase range of motion around our joints. Yoga can combine both of these into one session.
I have been falling in love with the spiritual side of yoga recently. In the video, I decided to keep the focus simple. Lower back pain is so common in sports, exercisers and desk workers. This is also the area that needs strength and flexibility for meditation. I find myself being quieter in my yoga, looking for contemplations, and looking for nothing.
When you are trying some of these poses or putting the routine together, try to feel what’s happening in your body. Just like the static stretching segment, focus on what your body can do and not what it cannot do.
Stay within limits that are pain free and ease into the flow. Try to stay quiet with your words and your mind. This is why I find yoga is a great compliment to fitness to help lower the nervous system activation. It can really help to de-stress the body and mind.
Yoga is considered a practice. You might not be perfect the first few times you try each pose. But that’s OK, nobody likes to be around a perfect person anyway!
In any mobility exercise, breathing is so important. I discussed breathing in the video/column on core training. The diaphragm is the top part of your core, so being able to breathe properly in exercise helps to stabilize your truck and gives your body more oxygen.
While you are doing these poses, move with your breath. You can breathe in with one pose, out with the next. You can hold a pose for a few deep breaths and then move on. Instead of counting or timing yourself, use your breath to create the rhythm.
Try this flow after you workout or if you need a breather throughout the day. It’s only three minutes long, although you could repeat it over and over for a longer flow. Let me know how it works for you! And most important, remind yourself that you are doing this for you, and no one else.
If you want to learn more about mobility or need guidance putting a routine together, let me know, I would love to help.
Jen Mark is a Registered Kinesiologist, Certified Athletic Therapist, and Registered Yoga Teacher at Matrix of Motion Fitness Studios and Sports Medicine Centre of Excellence in Newmarket. Jen is currently the athletic therapist with the Markham Majors Bantams. Jen is also the head therapist and holistic director for the Junior Development Squad with the Men’s program under Field Hockey Canada. Jen uses her athletic therapy for exercise and manual treatments including soft tissue massage, joint mobilizations, and muscle energy.