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Benefits of Yoga and Stretching

I HATE YOGA!

That is what I often hear when I talk to my friends and other coaches who are doing P90X.  YogaX is always a hot topic.  Many guys who are doing P90X to get ripped and build muscle don't feel like they need to do the Yoga.  "Yoga is for girls" is something that I often hear.  However, nothing is further from the truth.  In fact most men are much less flexible than women making it that much more important to stretch to maintain and improve flexibility.

Personally, I feel like I am one of the least flexible people in the entire world.  When I try to touch my toes with straight legs, I am lucky to reach my ankles.  Because of this lack of flexibility, doing Yoga is a major challenge to me.  I have to modify many of the moves and feel very awkward and uncomfortable doing yoga.  I used to make every excuse in the book to to skip the Yoga because I just hated to do it.  I felt like it was a waste of time and something that I really did not enjoy.  I thought my workout time would be better spent with resistance training, building up my strength and muscle.

Let's take a look at some of the benefits of Stretching and Yoga.

  • Stretching helps to reduce the risk of injury - While most exercises put the body at risk of numerous injuries such as tears in the ligaments or tendons, muscle strains, bone fractures, and fatigue, stretching acts in the opposite way. It improves muscle balance around joints and increases the fluidity and range of motion of these surrounding tissues.  Stretching also helps increase blood flow and provides increased amounts of much-needed oxygen to all areas of the body.
  • Improved Range of Motion - Stretching will improve your flexibility which will give you a greater range of motion in your exercises.  This greater range of motion means bigger bang for the buck on each rep of your exercise and greater efficiency in your workouts.
  • Reduce Soreness and Stiffness -  We all know the feeling of soreness the next day after a very intense workout.  This soreness comes from lactic acid that is built up in the muscles as they tear and break down during vigorous use.  Stretching releases that lactic acid buildup from the muscles which reduces the soreness, stiffness, tension, pain and fatigue in your muscles.  Stretching also helps to lubricate joints which helps to reduces pain and stiffness in the joints.
  • Yoga has been shown to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. A slower heart rate can benefit people with high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Yoga was a key component to the heart disease program designed by Dean Ornish, MD. This was the first program to partly reverse heart disease through lifestyle and diet rather than surgery.  In addition, Yoga has been associated with decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as a boost in immune system function.
  • Yoga reduces stress - The combination of focused breathing and stretching during Yoga has a calming effect that relaxes the body and the mind.  Studies have shown a host of biomedical responses from the body after doing Yoga.  For example, there is a decrease in catecholamines, the hormones produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Lowering levels of hormone neurotransmitters -- dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine -- creates a feeling of calm.

Yoga is a fantastic combination of Stretching, Balance, and Core strength that helps to improve your athletic ability and overall health.  Once I started to realized the fantastic natural benefits of Yoga, I committed myself to incorporating Yoga and stretching into my fitness routine.  Yoga helps me to improve in all other aspects of my health and fitness.  I still have times when I don't feel like doing the yoga, but I do it anyway and after it is done I feel great!.

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See what Tony Horton had to say about P90X Yoga.

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