A popular question I’m often asked by my clients and students who live active lifestyles is whether they should schedule their yoga practice before or after their workout session. Here’s my answer:
The answer is – You should do it AFTER (or on a different day than) your workout. From the perspective of the fascia, muscles and tissues, our tissues are weaker after a yoga session (especially if your yoga practice is a lot of deep stretches and sustained poses). Think about it, one factor that makes us strong is our muscles ability to contract. When you stretch your muscles they take on a new length, and their ability to contract is not as efficient as it was before the yoga session. Although you will of course regain your strength as your body adapts to the new length of your muscles, but this process takes at least a few hours. Your tissues need some time after a yoga session to properly rebound back into shape and regain their strength in their new length.
So if you are an athlete, a runner, gym-go’er or a weekend warrior but you love practicing yoga here are some suggestions on how to proceed (and what I myself do):
1) IDEALLY: To get the most out of your yoga practice, practice yoga on a different day than your athletic training and follow your training session with some gentle stretches rather than a full on deep and dynamic yoga session. This way you give your muscles time to recover post-workout before putting excess stretch on them, and you give your muscles time to rebound back into healthy shape after yoga before demanding that they contract right after they’ve been asked to deeply stretch.
2) If time is limited, practice yoga AFTER your athletic training but please be mindful, kind and gentle to your probably already fatigued muscles.
3) If you must practice yoga before your training try to wait at least a few hours after your yoga practice before hitting the gym and be sure to start your workout training in a very slow and controlled manner instead of going all out guns blazing.
Many of us want to jam in as much as we can into one day. But remember that the real yoga practice is not about learning how to ”do it all”, but rather it’s about becoming more in-tuned and in harmony with your self on all levels mind, body and heart. When you do so on one level the others will surely benefit in some way.