Around 6 months ago, I went to a yoga class. Now, as a man (and I am a man; I had is confirmed by a medical professional), there is a certain stigma attached to doing yoga. I wasn’t expecting too much; a few breathing exercises; maybe get stretched out a bit? I certainly wasn’t expecting a workout from this non-holistic activity.
6 months on, going to 1 class a week, plus 10-20 minutes a day practice and the benefits are clear. Starting with the obvious; my hamstrings are now much more open, there’s not the same tightness on return from a long training run and I can now far more efficiently and effortlessly alter my stride length in accordance with the terrain. The biggest benefit however, that came as a surprise to me, comes from the calmness, stillness and internal awareness that transfers into your other training.
When you think about it, how much energy do you waste using muscles you don’t need? Energy you can scarcely spare when endurance running. Yoga also focuses a lot of attention onto the breathing; this helps distract the brain from all those negative thoughts telling you it’s too hard, or to give up. For me, I also noticed in my squash game, under pressure, I would often forget to breathe on my shots. It sounds silly, but apparently I really am that stupid.
So 6 months on, and I now find yoga as a regular part of my training regime. The deep stretching aspect has my body more attuned, ready for action and more importantly, more injury-proofed. I now find it something I look forward to doing, and I would happily recommend it to anyone.