You may be thinking that yoga and cardio training are two things that don’t go together but this is a common misconception!
While they might seem to be at opposite ends of the motion spectrum, there is quite a bit of overlap between them both – not just because each type of activity helps with recovery from the other but because certain yoga poses can help strengthen specific muscle groups for better performance during cardio sessions!
Yoga can also increase strength and flexibility, which will allow you to push your body during cardio workouts more effectively.
Read this article to understand how these two seemingly opposite activities can work in harmony for an optimal workout routine.
Can Yoga Complement Your Yoga Training?
Yoga and cardio training complement each other by focusing on different aspects of the body.
While cardio training focuses on building endurance, strength and improving cardiovascular health, yoga focuses on working your muscles and increasing flexibility.
Yoga is often used as a form of recovery to help release tension built up from cardio training but it can increase performance during your cardio workouts!
Benefits of Yoga and Cardio Training
Here are some of the benefits of yoga and cardio training:
- Improved Postural Alignment
While regular exercise is essential to your well-being, high-impact exercise can put tremendous stress on your skeletal system.
Therefore, good posture is critical because it prevents unnecessary and unwarranted pressure on your joints. It can also be a critical factor in preventing back pain if you are a regular runner.
While yoga doesn’t improve your postural alignment, it helps you build increased body awareness. With increased body awareness, you can easily notice when you are slumping or slouching and adjust your posture.
- Improved Fascia and Joint Health
The key to avoiding injury for runners is to strengthen the muscles that support the joints. Yoga can do this!
It helps develop strength and flexibility in the lower back, legs, hips, and hamstrings, which are all essential areas of focus when it comes to running.
Keep in mind that running requires a lot of focus on your hamstrings because they are responsible for propelling you forward with every step you take.
All too often, runners neglect these critical muscle groups when working out because they think high-impact exercises like jogging or sprinting will provide enough challenge.
But yoga provides an opportunity to specifically work those muscles without adding extra wear-and-tear from jarring movements that can cause injuries down the line!
- Increased Heart Health
Studies have revealed that yoga can improve your cardiovascular health by normalising your heart rate, improving overall blood flow, and lowering blood pressure.
It can also reduce oxidative stress, which in turn helps decrease inflammation-related pain and muscle stiffness.
Some forms of yoga mainly focus on toning muscles which can be a great way to build strength and reduce the risk of injury while running.
This helps strengthen your arms, legs, chest, back, and abs while also stretching your shoulders.
Such poses can replace traditional arm curls or crunches often used in cardio training programs for improved range of motion because they focus on muscle groups that are often neglected.
- Increased Flexibility
Yoga increases flexibility by stretching and strengthening your muscles.
The result is an increased range of motion which can help you to balance better, move more fluidly, and avoid injury during high-impact exercises like running because it strengthens the connective tissues that provide stability for your joints.
Increased flexibility can lead to increased speeds and improved efficiency since your brain communicates better with your muscles. This increased communication speeds up muscle fibresfibers, allowing you to run faster.
- Enhanced Recovery
Yoga can help to facilitate muscle recovery after a run by improving blood flow to the muscles.
It can also help release tension built up from the high-impact movements of running on your joints and fascia.
Yoga focuses on gently stretching, strengthening, and lengthening muscle fibers which help you perform better during cardio workouts without risking injury or exhaustion that can occur when doing too much strenuous activity.
Yoga Poses to Pair with Your Cardio Training
Here are the top five yoga poses to pair with your cardio workouts for improved performance.
- Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
The tree yoga pose is a great way to improve your balance, posture, and tone your entire body.
To perform the tree pose, you should start in a standing position with both your hands at the centre of your heart.
Take a moment to feel your feet settled solidly on the ground by evenly distributing your weight.
Now carefully shift your body weight onto your right foot and slowly lift your left foot off the ground. Ensure your right leg remains straight and avoid locking the knee. Bend your left knee and place its sole on the inner right thigh.
To help maintain an even, square position from your hips to the front of your mat, press your feet down evenly onto your thighs.
To remain steady, stare at any stationary object in front of you. Take five to ten breaths, then shift to the other side.
- Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Bridge Pose is a great way to tone your hamstrings, calves, glutes, lower back muscles, and abdominal muscles while also stretching out your shoulders and chest.
To perform this pose, lie on your back with your knees bent, so the soles of your feet are flat on the ground.
Place your arms on the ground in front of you so that your fingers reach but barely touch the backs of your heels. Ensure your feet remain parallel to each other and maintain this position throughout the pose.
Now, press down on the soles of your feet to bring your hips up from the floor.
Place the yoga block under your back at the area of your lower vertebrae, allowing it to sit securely on the bolster. You can keep your arms outstretched next to you on the floor without using them for support.
This should be a comfortable stretching pose. Stay in the position for several minutes and let your body stretch. If you start feeling uncomfortable, remove the block and rest back onto the floor.
- Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotosana)
The pose is a variation of the hip-opener that allows you to stretch your legs outwards while also working on balance and core strength. It mainly targets your glutes and hamstrings while also stretching out your chest.
Begin seated with both your legs stretched out in front of you. Pull your right knee towards you and place that leg flat on the ground in a butterfly position. Stretch your left leg out behind you and point your toes outwards.
In this position, ground yourself with your arms by your side and breathe in as you extend and stretch your back. Hold the pose for a minute before alternating your legs.
- Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
The lizard pose mainly targets the hips and inner thighs, but it also stretches the hamstrings.
It is perfect for those with tight hamstrings because of its hamstring stretch and hip flexor release.
To perform the lizard pose, start on your hands and knees, with your palms facing down.
Make sure to keep the buttocks lifted to extend your spine. Stretch one foot out behind you and bring the other foot in front of you towards your rib at a 90 degree angle.
The foot you bring forward should touch its corresponding elbow positioned right under its shoulder.
Hold the position for at least 30 seconds.
This is a perfect yoga posture to do after running or other cardio training as it will help release any tension in your muscles.
- Wide-Legged Standing Forward Hold (Prasarita Padottanasana)
The wide-legged standing forward hold primarily targets the hamstrings and glutes. It also works to create a strong core. This is an excellent pose to do before your cardio training because it helps warm up those muscles in preparation for exercise.
To perform it, stand tall with your legs stretched more than shoulder width apart. Now bend at the hips and reach forward to bring your hands down to the floor in front of you or as close as possible without rounding your lower back or clashing your knees together.
Keeping your back straight, walk both your hands back towards your feet and touch your toes. Make sure the crown of your head is resting on the floor. Hold the pose for a minute before coming back up with your hands on your hips as you exhale and slowly lift your chest up.
Yoga complements cardio workouts by improving postural alignment, aiding fascia and joint health, enhancing heart health, and increasing flexibility. It is also a great way to enhance recovery and improve your efficiency.