Yoga – not just for hippies!

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Woman practicing yoga on the beach at sunset

Get your om on!

Cue the wind chimes, cue the New Age mysticism, cue the humus and the mung bean salad; we’re talking yoga, tai chi and meditation.

And that’s just for starters. It turns out practices we used to think were for just for hippies are for us too.

If you’re into your weights, you need to give serious thought to complementing your training with techniques to build flexibility and focus into your workout regime. Heck, even ballet is in the mix.

Yoga

The roots of this ancient Indian tradition reach deep into the mists of time. The ultimate goal of yoga is ‘Moksha’, or liberation gained through a combination of spiritual stillness and physical discipline. So forget reps, all in one protein supplements and creatine for a minute, you may well find yoga ‘liberating’ for ligaments and tendons that tighten with the intensity of your workout.

In fact, English weightlifting’s brand new champion in the the women’s under 48kg category swears by it. That’s because title winner, Nicola Jane Hobbs is a yoga teacher. In an article in the Mid Sussex Times, Nicola had this to say about combining weights with yoga:

“Many women are afraid of weightlifting because they think it will make them big and bulky, and many men are scared of yoga because they’re worried that they aren’t flexible enough or they can’t touch their toes. My aim is to make both yoga and weight lifting more accessible for everyone to enjoy.”

Interested? See if you can feel the benefit of the downward dog pose Nicola explains above.

Tai chi

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art thought to be based on observation the movements of the battling snake and crane. By reputation, it’s suitable only for wrinkled octogenarians, and while Tai Chi might help oldies with their balance, for active athletes, it’s a dead loss. Right? Wong.

Bodybuilders need to pay attention to a growing body of evidence that shows Tai Chi is for everyone – and especially people who work out. Why? Because it promotes good posture, relaxation and harmony in the body. Essential for anyone lifting heavy because it helps your body work in a holistic way, preventing injury and helping you hit peak performance.

Still not sure? Check out this guy – Lu Zijian – the Chinese martial artist was a master of Qigong Tai Chi. See how well he moves? In this clip he’s 118 years old.

Meditation

Achieve your goals through visualisation. That’s the key benefit of meditation for bodybuilders, weight lifters and other athletes. By tuning out distractions, clearing the mind and bringing your full focus to bear, you’ll reap the rewards in the gym.

Not sure whether it’s all a load of hokum? When Discovery Channel sent magician Dan White to see if he could find some real magic, he ended up deep in the mountains of Nepal where he gained an audience with a levitating Buddhist Monk. The footage is incredible, but is it real?

Imagine what skills like that could do for your personal best.

Ballet

OK – you probably need to bear with us on this one. Quite apart from being visually stunning, ballet is an object lesson in making the insanely difficult look easy. In fact a recent study by the University of Hertfordshire, published in Science Daily found that ballet dancers are fitter than international level swimmers.

The unique combination of cardio and strength work in ballet makes it superb for maintaining flexibility and strength, not to mention grace. Think it doesn’t matter that you’re a little clumsy as long as you’re ripped?

You might need to rethink that attitude. The greatest of them all, Arnie himself took ballet lessons to help him with his posing technique. We think you’ll agree, he’s very light on his feet for a big man!

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