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Practicing Yoga for Better Results

So I’m curious if anyone has tried yoga with good results. I would think that there’d be a great amount of potential benefits from breath control, muscle awareness, muscle activation, and rehab/prehab potential.

It’s honestly something that I’ve been thinking about trying on off days and I don’t really see a downside if it’s not taking away from other training.

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Only one way to find out…

It makes my lower back feel fantastic.

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Kind of where I’m at. Give it the old college try.

I’ve thought about it but never taken the plunge.

One of the strongest dudes I know does it though. I’m not sure how much or how often, but he’s pulled 700+ in competition at 242.

It doesn’t seem like there’d by any drawbacks. Try it!

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I do yoga for mobility and to de-stress. As we get older, yoga I think becomes more beneficial.

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I’ve done yoga on and off since 2011 (and recently haven’t been able to go because I have a 4 month old son). I very much like it, and think it has great benefits for lifters and other athletes. Really wish I could still make it to a class every week. A few things to be advised of if you are looking for a class to try:

There are many different types of yoga: I did/do mostly hot yoga in the “Bikram” style, a specific class that does the same sequence of 26 postures over 90 minutes in a hot room. I like this a lot for lifters because there’s a lot of emphasis on spinal health, a good dose of balance work, and little weight-bearing stuff that would be hard on wrists or shoulders.

There are also “hot flow” classes, “vinyasa” classes (think downward facing dog), “yin” yoga (prettt gentle, sit and hold postures for a reallllllly long time), and gentle/restorative yoga (mostly just sitting or lying on a mat and breathing).

Many yoga studios offer some sort of intro special (ie 7 dollars for 7 days unlimited, 29 dollars for unlimited yoga for your first month, etc). If you find a studio with one of those, take advantage and go multiple times. It’s really hard to judge how much you’ll like yoga from just one class. Could be a bad instructor, could just feel overwhelming trying to keep up the first time. Gotta go to at least two or three classes to give it a fair shake.

As with anything, yoga instructors can be quite variable in quality. Some are very good, understand that their students all have different goals, and will work with you to offer modifications or special cues to accommodate where your body is at. Others are just yoga snobs who look down on lifters or runners or anyone that isn’t yoga-first. So try a couple different classes and hopefully you find someone that seems to get that a strongman or powerlifter is there as a adjunct to their primary sport and will work with you to make the yoga practice work for your goals.

Finally, some big box gyms offer yoga classes. I would advise against taking those. My wife is a yoga instructor and has periodically taught at gyms, always hating it (whereas she likes teaching at dedicated yoga studios). It’s too loud, classes usually aren’t full (meaning you don’t have many good examples to work from if you’re a new person) and they just feel like second class citizens in a gym (ie many gyms like to show that they have a million different classes as a tool to sell memberships to people, but they don’t actually give a shit about the classes).

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I have done yoga weekly for 10+ years now. I think it is a big part of the reason that I have stayed relatively injury free and healthy despite the amount of lifting and sports I have done. For reference, I’m in my mid 40’s.

As others say, find a legitimate yoga studio and a good instructor. This makes a huge difference. Also, depending on the type of class you take, it can be pretty demanding. I take advanced vinyasa classes, and do not lift on that same day. Definitely think of it as a workout if you choose a challenging class. Conversely, you can take “gentle” yoga that is more relaxed and you doin’t need to account for it in your training. It is pretty cheap in the scheme of things (I buy 20 packs of classes for $200).

A good studio will clearly list not only the type of yoga, but the level. If you’re new to it, take a lower level course, just as you wouldn’t try to squat 300 lbs if you are new to squatting.

I’d say to try it and commit. There are lots of “new customer” deals, so committ to at least a 10 sessions.

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Just avoid anything that is going to result in excessive flexibility, being too flexible will make your joints unstable and can increase the risk of injury while also not helping to get stronger. Moderate yoga-type stuff should be fine but don’t try to be both a contortionist and a powerlifter.

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Why do you say this?

I’m not claiming to know otherwise here, but I know some dudes that are pretty damn strong and can also assume some very difficult and unconventional positions. They all seem to be able to do this without any injury. I’m talking about jiu jitsu players, not yoga gurus, but the range of movement has to be similar.

What sort of movements do you believe are “too flexible”? When does contortionism butt heads with powerlifting? I’m not trying to be argumentative here, just trying to understand where you think the rubber meets the road in this case.

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Stuart McGill and Chris Duffin have a video where they discuss exactly this, they say that as a powerlifter you shouldn’t aim to increase flexibility and mobility beyond the range of motion necessary to do the 3 lifts. Also, McGill says that you want spinal stability, not flexibility, for sports performance and back health.

If you can squat so your ass touches the floor with flat shoes and no warmup, you are probably too flexible. If you can put your arm straight out to the side and then adduct your shoulder until it goes way behind the midline of your body, you are probably too flexible. If you can bend over and put your head between your knees, you are probably too flexible.

For jiu jitsu this might not apply, I’m only talking about PL.

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Right that’s all I was after here. Thanks for the clear and concise reply.

I have heard some similar things on trying to introduce too much flexibility. I’m thinking I should probably meet with an instructor and talk about my goals which would be primarily muscle activation and neural connection followed by breathing. I really don’t want it to interfere with my current training program and recovery.

Just FYI, guys, yoga is about much more than flexibility, and taking one or two yoga classes per week won’t magically turn you into a circus contortionist. I took hot yoga classes 1-3 times per week for 4-5 years and still couldn’t / cannot touch my toes without bending my knees.

TL; DR it would be shocking if a weekly yoga class made you “too flexible” to the point that it was detrimental to lifting.

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That was my initial thought, but I’m just here to say that I can totally touch my toes without bending my knees. I can also put my head in a position to suc… nevermind. I have decent spinal flexibility for a guy my size, I suppose.

I guess if I became gluten-intolerant, went vegan, stopped drinking too much beer and dedicated myself to yoga I could somehow reach the “too flexible” threshold Chris described, but even that’s a long shot.

What say you, @pookie79? Are you in any danger of reaching the danger zone of becoming too flexible for powerlifting?

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This is true. And let’s face it, the fear of being “too flexible” from an occasional yoga session is akin to the non-lifter saying “I don’t want to work out with heavy weights because I don’t want to look like bodybuilder”.

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Very well put.

If there’s one universally-held myth about yoga among people that haven’t actually tried yoga (or tried it once and never went again) it’s that “yoga” equals “stretching” and little else.

Definitely good idea to meet with an instructor, but I will say I found yoga effective at these aims, and probably did more for them than it did for my “flexibility” to be honest. I had a number of “oh, NOW my glute / quad / hamstring is engaged!” moments in different postures.

It’s not for everyone, and the biggest challenbe is the time commitment (going to a 90 minute yoga class is really a 2.5-3 hour commitment by the time you drive there, take class, shower, drive home; i have seen some studios offering 60 min classes on weekdays, which I found more manageable from a “how can I fit this into my life” standpoint). Used to be a fun way to spend Saturday morning: sleep in, go to 9:30 yoga class, brunch afterwards - but with a small kid we’ve had to drop this for a little while.

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My flexibility is poor and has been since early childhood. I’ve found yoga to be the only physical thing that has improved every other physical activity. The classes I got the most from was iyenger as they focused more on alignment. However, that might be because the iyenger instructors I found happened to have a style that suited me.

An iyenger instructor sorted my arthritic knuckles from rock climbing. It wasn’t arthritis just terrible blood flow, and I’d seen arthritis specialists.

Even if I stretch every day I only approach ‘normal’ levels of mobility. I’d seen a meta analysis years ago on stretching and sports performance. Basically it stated that if you have poor mobility you should stretch and if you have hyper mobility you shouldn’t stretch but strengthen. Which some poses do.

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Most likely it wouldn’t, but if you are already very flexible and start doing yoga several times per week then it’s a real possibility. My point was that as long as you don’t take it too far it shouldn’t be a problem.

That’s a big negative. I’m doing good to scratch my own back some days.

Yeah, then you’re not gonna get too flexible from a weekly yoga class, lol. I think you’re probably the perfect example of a lifter that could benefit from a yoga class every now and then.

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