THE iKOR BLOG
HOW TO INCORPORATE YOGA PRACTICES INTO YOUR TRAINING PROGRAM
By Gretchen K. Boswell
March 16, 2020
Yoga can be a powerful tool to augment and deepen any training program. Usually, yoga is defined as “union,” but in the roots of the yoga philosophy, it is “the spiritual effort to attain perfection through the control of the body, senses, and mind.” Discrimination between what is right in the body and in the consciousness – and how they work together in union – is what develops a strong yoga practice.
In other words, it’s possible to find synchronicity by flexing both the physical and mental muscles…which is why incorporating yoga into your training program can be extremely beneficial.
Yoga as it is known and practiced in the Western world is a practice that rests heavy on the physical postures of yoga, the asanas. We practice yoga poses – whether vinyasa, yin, hatha, restorative, whatever movement type you prefer! – in order to focus the body, then the breath, and then the mind. It is not always necessary to focus on these three things in this order, but this is the tradition of the yoga philosophy, and a useful practice to apply as part of your training program.
PRACTICE PHYSICAL, MOVEMENT ASPECT OF YOGA IN YOUR TRAINING PROGRAM
FOCUS ON BREATH
Breath is life, and is a way to move energy, or prana, within the body. Maybe you choose to begin your training with a quick 3-minute meditation to refocus on the breath that will power you through your workout. When you can pay attention to your breath and how it is shifting within your body, you can control your life force as a tool to support you in your fitness goals. Try this meditation before getting to your training:
• Sit in a comfortable seat, closing the eyes if comfortable.
• Feel the natural movement of the breath without making a change for 5 breaths.
• Allow the shoulders and sit bones to be heavy, and keep a long tall spine and neck, chin parallel with the floor.
• Inhale through the nose, feeling the cool air entering the nostrils.
• Exhale through the mouth, feeling the warm air leaving by the lips.
• If you like, repeat this mantra “Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in. Breathing out I know that I am breathing out.” You may change this mantra to whatever feels inspiring, also!
• As you continue, you may choose to retain the breath at the top of the inhale for 2-5 seconds. You may also choose to focus on expanding and relaxing the belly muscles on the inhale, and collapsing the belly in toward the spine on the exhale.
FOCUS ON THE CORE
Our bodies are built the way they are for a reason. The abdominal muscles are the epicenter of muscular movement, and therefore the source of much strength produced in the extremities. This is why focusing on breath – which moves through the core – is a powerful tool. To strengthen the core both front and back, incorporate the sun salutation into your training warm up. It is made up of 11 poses, hinging on the “plank” or push-up posture. Check out the diagram on this page to see what the combination looks like.
Other great poses to practice for core strength include:
• Boat pose (navasana)
• Chair pose (utkatasana)
• Side plank pose (vasisthasana)
• Dolphin plank pose – forearm plank
The yoga practice is about finding balance within the body and mind, and you know the age-old saying: You are what you eat! Due to the involuntary movement and work of our internal organs (digestion, especially), eating/fueling appropriately is a part of practicing yoga. Choose fuel – pre, during, and-post-ride – that is energizing and does not contribute to the build up of toxins (ama) in the body. Toxins from the foods we eat that our body cannot process accumulate in our joints, primarily, which can limit mobility over time. Sometimes the mind works against the benefit of the body, so cultivate a more mindful connection to fueling with these main tips: