Can Your Yoga Practice Help You in the Weight Room?
This article originally appeared on Yoganonymous.com.
It turns out, yoga will bring you much more than just peace of mind.
Special Forces soldier, Doug Kiesewetter, claims that yoga helped him improve his weight lifting capabilities, while shedding pounds, and improving his personal and professional lives.
Kiesewetter states in this Men's Health article that he began his yoga practice while he was stationed just north of Baghdad in 2011.
He was one of the last soldiers in Iraq—he and his team were closing down operations in the region, and remained in the area to show U.S. support for a new Iraqi state. Kiesewetter says that the region where he was stationed wasn't particularly dangerous. He and his team had a lot of time on their hands, and they used that time to focus on their physical health. Kiesewetter was focused on weight lifting, and his counterparts were focused on their yoga practice.
Kiesewetter's first yoga session, as he describes, turned his views on his physical fitness upside down: "I deadlift 515 pounds, squat 405, and bench 315. But this yoga session left me in shambles. It was held in a cinder block building in the desert with no AC. Matching my breathing to inverted poses was nearly impossible, and I felt like I’d used a whole new set of muscles."
It was a new way to work out, and once Kiesewetter returned to the U.S., he continued to engage in a regular yoga practice. He found that yoga was an amazing way to stretch out his muscles, and served as a complementary practice to his usual high-intensity training workouts.
Kiesewetter says, "I used to pound the iron nonstop. Now I’m actually 30 pounds lighter, but I’m hitting the same numbers in key lifts. Leveraging the breathing techniques I learn on the yoga mat allows me to access untapped strength and mobility—I don’t need to redline to improve. It’s funny, because those physical benefits are mostly due to yoga’s mental benefits."
Working out smarter, not harder, is key to having a healthy muscles and ligaments in the long run. The best way to get started in developing a yoga practice is to test out a beginner's vinyasa sequence. Once you become comfortable with the poses, and take a few classes, you can then begin to tailor your practice to your body's personal needs for a happy, healthy yoga practice.