Expert Q and A: Tips for Combining Yoga and Weight Training

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Posted on September 7th, 2011

Expert Q and A: Tips for Combining Yoga and Weight Training

Question: I'm just starting Yoga and I also weight lift. Can you give me some advice as to whether I should do Yoga stretches and weight lifting on the same day and do meditation on the rest days or the other way around. Also any recommendations on which videos I should start with would be appreciated?

I'm in good health and I do a full weight lifting workout that is probably at a moderate level. I was working out 6 days a week alternating between different muscle groups, but I now I'm rearranging it to three days a week so I can fit yoga in. I also do cardio for 15 - 25 mins on most days.

Since my weight lifting program contains all muscle groups, I'm wondering if I should be doing Yoga stretching exercises on the same days so the muscles have days to rest or on alternating days from my weight lifting. 

Answer: Weight training can be complemented very well with Yoga poses, but one needs to be mindful how to combine these practices in order to avoid over training and tissue fatigue. Your overall program will vary depending on the level of weight training, the timing of training and the type of Yoga you wish to do.

Meditation can be done daily. We recommend either doing meditation first thing in the morning or at the end of the day. Morning meditation enhances your ability to move through the day with mindful thought and action. Evening meditation is beneficial for mental cleansing of the day's stresses and facilitate a more sound sleep pattern.

Meditation is greatly enhanced by doing Yoga as the postures release tension, calm the nervous system, and help establish a meditation posture that is comfortable and with proper energy alignment. Doing Yoga before meditation is a great tool, but is not required. Meditation can be done any time of the day especially if the mind and body is requesting a time-out from busyness and needing a moment of 'presence'.

Since you are doing weight training 3 days per week, you can easily create a program with proper rest periods to allow for muscle tissue recovery. Here is my personal recommendation to incorporate Yoga in a 3 day weight training program.

*if you do Yoga on the same day as your training days, select a Yoga practice for that day that targets the same muscle groups as your weight training workout. This way, you are continuing the progressive overload needed for sustaining and enhancing musculoskeletal health. The Yoga practice should be done after the weight training session so that cooling stages of the practice help release lactic acid build up from the weight training and condition your muscles and joints to maintain range of motion and mobility.

*if you prefer to do Yoga on the days between your weight training sessions, then you should avoid practices that repeat loading of muscles just worked the day before with weights. You need to let these muscles recover for a good 48 hours. You can do a mild warming and conditioning of these muscles, but not intense practicing. Use these 'Yoga days" to further release lactic acid and to target other areas not loaded the day before by your weight training.

Some examples:
*you train your chest and quadriceps on Monday with weights. You either 1) do a vigorous flow like vinyasa yoga that incorporates multiple pushup transitions (chest and triceps) and standing poses (quadriceps) on this day or 2) do a core based practice the next day that loads the abdominals and back therefore avoiding any intense loading of the limbs involving the chest and quadriceps.

Consider the approach and preference of practice as well. Some people like to be vigorous in their Yoga practice where others wish to be gentle and nurturing. If you wish to keep your Yoga practice less physical and apply more stretching and expanding aspects, then you will likely not have to be so concerned about muscle recovery and when to do your Yoga practice.

Also keep in mind that weight training leaves a temporary residual 'fatigue' in the muscles that can affect the performance in your Yoga practice (for up to a couple of days) especially for practices that involve poses requiring endurance and/or strength-based transitions.

This is just my personal opinion, but I would leave the physicality solely for your weight training and explore more slow, grounding Hatha flows. Main advantage to this approach is you can readily modify the flows to suit residual muscle fatigue from the weights, you avoid over training issues, and you can generate a great balance of muscle conditioning with flexibility training.

Expert Q & A provided by My Yoga Online teacher and Co-Founder, Kreg Weiss.


Tags: Meditation, Yoga Tips, Yoga, Kreg Weiss, Yoga for Beginners, yoga poses, exercise, beginner yoga, yoga expert, weight training, lactic acid, strength training, yoga and weights, training routine

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