#Trending's resident fitness fanatic Mohau Mokoena is besotted with yoga. Here's why...
This is my opinion: yoga is to the body what laughter is to the soul – therapy. It just feels good. The practice of yoga is normally considered a form of stretching and, from infancy, human beings instinctively stretch.
The Harvard Health website breaks down stretching like this: “Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong and healthy. And we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motions in the joints.
“Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains and muscle damage.”
Yoga can be highly beneficial for runners
To get the body ready for a run, one needs to warm up.
Yoga may seem to be a slow way to warm up, but when performed at a faster pace, it can and will get the body warmed up and your heart racing.
There are options, including hot yoga, performed in a room heated to at least above 28°C, and Bikram yoga, which is also done in a heated room but with a more serious pose flow.
Another heart-pumping form is power yoga.
This is how the Inner Dimension website describes power yoga: “It is a dynamic, vigorous practice in which postures are linked in a flowing sequence in rhythm with the breath.”
These types of yoga practices not only warm up the body, but also come with the benefits of stretching.
Fitness enthusiasts always harp on about warming up and stretching before and after exercising – and there is a solid reason for that.
It is very important to get the body ready for any physical activity and to bring down the heart rate after any hectic routine. And it’s a fact, running is hectic.
Yoga also hones your mindfulness. Exercise requires a mind-muscle connection – just pack up and go home if you don’t do that. Minding how one moves can help avoid injuries.
Many yoga poses and flows stretch the muscles, which in turn improves blood circulation in those muscles. This can prevent injuries.
The series of pictures show a simple sequence you can do before and after a run. The visual demonstration of these poses is timed for 30 seconds of work with 10 seconds for transition.
Setting up the timer like this is meant to give the right and the left sides equal treatment.
The poses show an easy variation and the deeper, much harder version. Start with the easy one, then push yourself a bit to see how far you can take the poses.
But listen to your body – don’t push too hard. Moving from an easy variation to the deeper version can be done at a quicker pace for a faster cardiovascular effect.
Use these poses for cooling off or stretching after a run – so take your time.
This flow concentrates a lot on the lower part of the body.
HOW THE FLOW WILL GO
1. Start with a straight back, then lean into a forward fold
2. Transition to all fours and do a cat-cow pose
3. Get up into a downward-facing dog pose and walk your dog, bending one knee at a time
4. Then swing one leg in front and fold into a pyramid, stretching the backs of the legs.
5. Next, bend the front knee while lowering the back knee to get into a low lunge. You can add the hands-up motion for a torso stretch
6. Then move to the pigeon position. Completely lower the body into a sitting position, with the front knee bent. Place the foot near the groin while the back leg is stretched out and the toes are flat on the floor
7, 8 and 9 In the next three moves, repeat steps 4, 5 and 6 on the opposite side
10. The last move is a yogi squat, which is basically a deep squat