By Neil Perkins
In 2007 I boxed to a national final. I was pound for pound stronger than I have ever been and maintained body fat sub 10% for 6 months. Yes, consistently staying in the gym was key to this along with dieting but I recall during this period I never had any niggles or minor injuries and I felt stronger than ever before. Along with three boxing sessions, two long slow distance runs, one track sprint session and one Strength & Conditioning session per week, I incorporated two yoga sessions per week, one Hatha and one Ashtanga.
In hindsight I feel that the reason why I was able to maintain such a regimented training programme was due to the Yoga. I feel that anyone who trains (not exercises) for more than four sessions per week should integrate some yoga into their schedule. Yoga alone will not make you a better athlete, it will not make you run faster, lift more or punch harder but it will enable your body to function and train on a regular basis, reduce risk of injury and aid your physical and mental capabilities. Below are four reasons you should be integrating yoga into your training regime
- Reduce Risk of Injury
Ensuring good flexibility massively reduces the risk of injury. The control your body develops through an increased range of motion also potentially increases your power output.
2. Increase Strength
Moving form pose to pose is taxing on the body, there can be huge gains in strength from practising yoga on a regular basis.
3. Improve Core
Rotation work and planks will massively improve your core strength. Dynamic poses in advanced sequences will really focus on your core.
4. Zen time
Learning to lie still, thinking about your breathing and body will improve your focus and mental state.
Where to practice
Birmingham seems to be the Yoga capital. We have an abundance of quality and independent Yoga Studio’s. Bikram Yoga is good, but the benefits are debateable as opposed to standard Yoga. I have intermittently used Yoga Haven Birmingham and Solihull and have always been impressed. I have heard nothing but good reports from Yoga Sweat and Barefoot Yoga. If you are feeling hard-core, then Ashtanga Yoga practice under Robin Aurora or James Critchlow comes personally recommended.