Yoga is one of the best things you can do to increase your overall health, on both a physical and mental level. Sometimes, though, fitness devotees want a little something extra within their workout week—whether it's more sweat, more cardio, or something to just mix things up. The good news is that yoga pairs perfectly with all types of workouts, and fitness pros are sharing how to pair yoga and strength training (and other workout modalities) in order to reach your goals.
"The mental focus and awareness that yoga provides helps all athletes get into flow state and achieve that same focus in their sport," says Lindsay Pirozzi, a New York City-based yoga instructor. Not only that, but practicing regular yoga fills your body with oxygen, increases your lung capacity and circulation, and boosts your posture, adds Kirschen Katz, a celebrity yoga instructor. "Every system in our body benefits. Yoga is excellent for increasing flexibility, muscle strength, and tone, and it boosts our energy and vitality," she says.
Despite its many, many benefits, it's smart to throw in at least one other type of workout into your sweat rotation to round things out. "While yoga marries well with any type of fitness regimen, there are specific styles to compliment each other in more efficient ways," says Pirozzi. Here are the yoga pairings for all different fitness goals.
Iyengar yoga + running or cycling = better postural alignment
"Iyengar yoga is a form of yoga with a strong emphasis on precision and alignment with little attention to the breath," says Katz, adding that it's very slow-paced and simply hones in on your technique. "That's why I like to pair it with something like running or cycling for cardiovascular activity so that you can get the benefits of cardio too." Pirozzi adds that Iyengar yoga has a lot of standing postures, which helps a lot with balance. "That means it would pair well for golfers or other sports that require lots of balance," she says.
Yin yoga + HIIT workouts = healthier fascia and joints
Katz notes that yin yoga is very important for helping connective tissue, joints, and fascia of the body. "It's a static practice that is primarily done seated or lying down, and requires little muscular effort and zero calisthenics," she says. "That's why it would pair perfectly for those who run, cycle, do Crossfit, or any high-energy, very active bootcamp-like workouts." Since these are harder on your joints, the static stretches of yin yoga help to repair the damage from the high-impact exercises.
Vinyasa yoga + weight training = better cardiovascular endurance
If you've ever taken a Vinyasa yoga class, you'll know that it's a more rhythmic, heart-pumping type of flow. "It's a bit more rhythmic and gets the heartbeat up," says Pirozzi. Since this type of yoga falls more into the cardio bucket, she recommends pairing it with weight lifting workouts. "Those who do slower weight-training workouts would benefit from giving their lungs some exercise in Vinyasa," she says. Katz also prefers pairing vinyasa yoga with hiking, as it's "meditative and more stamina-building, but not exhilarating like hard-core cardio."
Restorative yoga + HIIT training = your grounding combo
"Restorative yoga is very passive, and acts as a meditative practice in which you hold poses for a much longer time than Vinyasa yoga," says Katz, who notes that poses are typically held for upwards of 10 to 15 minutes. "It's a slow, grounding practice that allows the body and muscles to relax and expand." She likes to pair it with a HIIT workout regimen since it really winds you down and allows your body to recover after the intense exercises, acting as a sort of active stretch pairing for your muscles.
Hot yoga + any other workout = increased flexibility
Pirozzi says that hot yoga is particularly good for the senior athlete population, as well as weightlifters, runners, cyclers, and Crossfit devotees. "The external heat helps to expedite flexibility, which the other fitness programs can sometimes reduce since they contract the muscles," she says. "While all yoga builds internal heat from sealing the lips when you breathe, the external heat helps to open things up a bit quicker."
Try this beginner yoga flow to get you started:
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