Although exercise and weight training is important for health and vitality, body builders can face problems related to joint and muscle pain. Yoga is a useful solution to help realign the body properly and improve flexibility. Beyond helping with any muscle or joint pain, yoga can also help improve poses and movement.
Risks in Body building
Body builders spend hours working on improving muscle mass and physical exercise, but that does not necessarily mean that good health will always follow. Common problems with health can occur as a direct result of building up a large amount of mass and hours of exercise for extended periods of time.
One important risk that a bodybuilder might face is injuries. Lifting weights, particularly heavy lifting, can result in injuries to the muscles and bones. Even minor injuries from general weight lifting and exercise, such as sprains and strains, can add up over time causing pain and discomfort.
Beyond the physical risk of injuries, body builders often face a reduced range of motion due to increased muscle mass. Building up muscle has a risk of losing flexibility. Range of motion decreases and the body becomes less capable of stretching and moving freely. Along with the reduced ranged of motion, stiffness in the muscles can develop that requires longer periods of time stretching to regain the same level of physical movement.
Joint damage is another common problem that occurs over time while bodybuilding. The reason is simple: the joints take on more pressure due to exercises, weight training and increased muscle mass. Over time, the joints can cause discomfort and pain. When measures are not taken to correct the joint pain, inflammation and arthritis can develop.
Although body builders often spend hours exercising, they face health risks that are possible to prevent. It is not necessary to lose range of motion or face uncomfortable injuries due to increased stiffness.
Improvements with Yoga
Many body builders see positive changes by adding yoga to a normal routine. Beyond the improvements to flexibility, yoga can help improve sleeping habits, energy levels and general happiness. Sleep is a necessary part of healing after exercise because the body takes that time to repair muscles. A greater amount of energy can provide the opportunity to enjoy exercise without losing focus or taking unnecessary risks due to fatigue.
Here are a few poses to try:
Downward Facing Dog
The asana called downward facing dog is a basic pose found in several yoga practices. The movement increases general flexibility throughout the body and improves circulation. It also stretches out all of the muscles throughout the body.
Start on your hands and knees. Place your hands forward and adjust the knees so that they are below your hips. Slowly, lift the knees off the floor and pull the tailbone away from the spine. Move your heels toward the floor. Draw your shoulder blades toward each other and keep your head between your arms. The proper form has a shape like an inverted V. Stay in the pose for around five to eight long, deep breaths.
The seated twist helps improve flexibility in the back and helps reduce the risk of back injuries from lifting.
Sit on your mat (or the floor) with your legs out in front of you. Now put your right foot (knee up) next to the outside of your left knee. Tuck your left heel close to the buttock (or leave that leg straight if this is difficult). Keep the sit bones even on the floor and lift up through the top of your head, then twist from the shoulders toward the right. With your left arm, hug your right knee toward your upper body. Look over your right shoulder. Hold this pose for a few breaths – lengthening the upper body on the inhale and twisting a little more on the exhale. Then uncross the legs and do the other side.
Warrior pose is a pose of power that improves general balance and builds core stability. Start with the legs together. Do a side lunge with the front foot facing forward and the back foot facing sideways. Hold the arms straight from the shoulders, activating the arms. Hold the pose for a few seconds, release, then do the other side.
Bridge pose is a great chest stretch. Lie on your back and bring your feet, soles on the floor, close to your buttocks. Keep your arms on your mat, palms down. Be sure that your toes face the front and feet are parallel to each other. Now, as you inhale, start lifting the hips. With every inhale, lift a little higher. You can support your bridge with your hands or a block under the hips.
Cow face arms
Cow face arms are an element of cow face pose, in which the legs are crossed and the feet tucked close to the buttocks. (That is a great hip opener!) For this purpose, you could also just sit with legs straight in front of you. Stretch your left arm out horizontally and then tuck it up between the shoulder blades. Now stretch your right arm up, then tuck it behind your head, toward the fingers of your left hand. It may be necessary to use a strap to hold between the two hands. Hold this for a few breaths, then do the other side.
If you are unsure, why not attend a class? Most instructors are experienced in helping all body types and would help you find the best way for you to practice. There are so many more asanas that can help.
Yoga can help body builders improve flexibility, create more space and reduce the risk of injuries. Although it might seem difficult at first, the practice can increase the amount of time that body builders are able to continue working out and enjoying their workout while also improving mental and physical health. I have a few muscle men in my classes and they love their yoga practice!
Om Shanti Om