Yoga and bodybuilding might seem like a strange combination. Yoga practitioners focus on stretching and breathing, and bodybuilders engage in producing eye-popping muscles. However, the two disciplines are quite complementary. So if you're engaged in bodybuilding as a hobbyist or a competitor, yoga can improve your range of motion, enable you to hold poses longer and more creatively, reduce your risk of injury and help remove stress and anxiety from your life
Correct Body Postures & Posing
Competitive bodybuilder and certified fitness trainer Ivan Blazquez, writing at Bodybuilding.com, says that yoga has taught him correct body posture, "a fundamental element in bodybuilding." Yoga training focuses on holding postures, which enables you to hold posing positions longer in bodybuilding competitions and create beautiful, flowing lines in the body. This can make the difference between winning and losing in a close competition.
Range of Motion
The heavy diet of weightlifting in bodybuilder training tends to shorten your muscles. This, in turns, tends to reduce your range of motion. For example, bodybuilders work their big shoulder muscles religiously to obtain eye-popping arms. But few bodybuilders strengthen their rotator cuff muscles, which makes them particularly susceptible to rotator cuff injuries. However, a number of yoga postures, such as downward dog, work the rotator cuff muscles, strengthening and lengthening them to increase range of motion.
Preventing injuries to your rotator cuffs provides more than just a short-term benefit for a bodybuilder. The wear and tear of bodybuilding tends to produce long-term joint and muscle problems, and yoga can help counteract the potential damage. The increased flexibility from yoga postures also help alleviate or prevent back problems, another bane of many weightlifters. In short, the more flexible your muscles, the better your chances of avoiding injury during your heavy lifting years and in the future.
Stress and Relaxation
Numerous research studies have demonstrated the ability of yoga to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. The breathing techniques used in yoga classes are aimed as relaxation. Yoga also increases levels of the feel-good hormone GABA, another factor in reducing stress and anxiety. As a result, yoga classes can enable you to sleep better, and quality sleep aids in recovery from workouts. The North Georgia Yoga center explains that the mental discipline of yoga also helps you become more focused, which can make "average bodybuilders look and feel better, but for competitive bodybuilders [it's] essential."
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.