Pre-workout yoga: the two words sound ironic next to each other, don’t they? That’s because yoga is known to calm us and bring awareness while a pre-workout is supposed to pump us up, right? Well, not so fast.
Many athletes and yogis believe centering the mind and calming the muscles can prepare the body to complete any workout more efficiently. Similarly, taking certain pre-workout supplements for yoga may help the body and mind push through harder poses. However, there isn’t a ton of research on the subjects.
Below, we discuss both theories and present some basic tips on how to unite yoga, training and pre-workout supplements for maximum fitness benefits.
The Philosophy of YogaYoga is an ancient philosophical practice that has become amazingly popular in the west over the past several decades. It’s a workout of awareness meant to unify our inner thoughts and feelings with our physical movements. The idea is that if we can align our mind, body, and soul, we can create peace within ourselves.
As it turns out, aligning the mind, body, and soul while releasing stress may prevent injury and allow for maximum efficiency during any workout.
That’s why so many athletes, avid exercisers, and weekend workout warriors are using yoga as a pre-workout today. It all starts with a good yoga flow.
Pre-Workout Yoga Flow
A yoga flow is the transition through a series of poses with consistent movement to get the blood pumping and muscles moving. It doesn’t involve static stretching, which may not be so good for the muscles before a workout. For example, Sun Salutations A and B are great yoga flows to get the blood flowing and destress the muscles.
A yoga flow done before a workout could help the body build stamina, build balance, increase flexibility, reduce stress, and increase blood flow to the body in preparation for a more intense workout. As such, we’ve done some research on yoga flows that may be beneficial when done before general physical activity or more intense heavy lifting.
Simple Pre-workout Yoga Flow to do Before Any Exercise Session
Introducing a pre-workout yoga flow into your routine should be pretty painless. Here are some effective pre-workout yoga poses to incorporate into a flow yourself.
Warm Up Pose
Sit up straight with feet touching and rotating your head, neck, and shoulders in circles. This will help increase flexibility and circulation to any tight muscles in the neck and shoulders. Ultimately, increasing flexibility and blood flow might help prevent injury, increase range of motion, and maintain energy flow during your workout.
Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist
Cross one leg over the other and twist the opposite way. Yoga practitioners speculate that this stretch can help increase flexibility in the spine and quads while stimulating the digestive system and increasing the oxygen supply to the lungs.
Marjariasana or Cat Pose
Cat stretch helps loosen up the spine, relieve tight neck muscles, and soothe the abdominal organs. If you’re planning to do an ab. workout or boxing class, transitioning from Cat Pose to Cow Pose can help warm up the core. Cow pose is just the opposite of cat pose for an inverse stretch.
Want Peak Performance? Yoga Pranayama may help.
Yoga largely centers around pranayama: Controlling the breath. Pranayama can help reduce stress and maximize flexibility, which is good for every workout. It can also help soothe hypertension, nervous system imbalances, and even asthma. Focusing on your breath can even lead to better focus in general, which may help improve your body’s performance.
Pre-workout Yoga for Heavy Weightlifting
Studies show that consistent yoga can help build muscle to support extra weight, especially the core and lower back muscles used in deadlifting. In other words, pre-workout yoga may help prevent injury during heavy lifting. Here are some poses to help you do so.
Hastapadasana or Standing Forward Fold
Hinge at the hips, reach forward as far as you can, then reach down. Stretches like these will increase flexibility and strength in your back, knees, legs and thighs, ultimately preparing you for a back or leg workout and helping any chronic back pain.
Sarvangasana or Shoulder Stand
Shoulder stand opens up the shoulders and chest while increasing the body’s oxygen supply to the lungs. The body’s supply of oxygen is important because it impacts the speed of blood flow to muscles during exercise. The more we exercise, the more oxygen our bodies need to support our muscles and keep our circulation moving fast.
Maybe you’ve heard of planking before, but did you know it originated as a yoga pose? Push back into push up position with knees lifted. You’ll hold for a number of seconds or minutes.
Planking is known to strengthen the core and spine, which creates a foundation for upper and lower body strength. It may also prepare the muscles surrounding the collarbone and shoulder for a workout, making it a solid strengthening exercise for boxers and heavy weight lifters.
If you are a bodybuilder or heavy lifter, the image at right may look familiar to you. That’s because the Chair Pose and deadlifting require a similar stance. Thus, doing chair pose before a workout can help the body practice alignment to avoid injury while lifting heavy weights.
Doing Chair Pose pre-workout before deadlifting, specifically, may help you to slow down while lifting and remind your body of the importance of proper form during your routine.
Make sure to put weight into the heels and keep the butt back and down to experience the full effect.
How soon before a workout should I do yoga?
There’s not much consensus out there on how soon before a workout to do yoga. That’s because there is a lot of debate over whether doing yoga before or after a workout is better for the muscles.
For example, Harvard Medical School says stretching is a better way to cool down than to warm up. On the other hand, most yoga styles don’t consist of merely stretching. They usually flow through a combination of poses, allowing the body to build muscle through balance and resisting its own weight.
Is it necessary to warm up before doing yoga?
Yoga practice normally incorporates a dynamic warm up instead of diving right into intense poses and flows. You should incorporate simple warm-up poses like child’s pose and forward fold into the beginning of your practice to get the muscles moving before picking up intensity. Otherwise, you could hurt yourself.
Similar to yoga’s effects, various pre-workout supplements claim to help reduce stress in the muscles and mind. Could these supplements also help with yoga practice? Well, it’s possible. We’ve outlined our findings on the subject below.
Are Pre-Workout Supplements Good for Yoga Practice?
If you thought bodybuilders doing yoga was weird, have you ever heard of yogis taking pre-workout supplements before their practice? I know how it sounds, but if you want to get the most out of your practice, you’ll need ultimate mental clarity and focus. If you have trouble in that area, a supplement could be very helpful.
While there isn’t much research on whether pre-workout supplements can complement yoga practice, there are some things to note. For example, some of the nutrients found in certain supplements typically used for intense training may be helpful for yogis too. Here’s what we’ve found.
L-Theanine – Green Tea’s Natural Meditation Aid
L-Theanine is known to create Alpha waves that relax the mind and reduce heart rate. Alpha waves created by L-theanine may be helpful for meditation, especially for those who have trouble relaxing the body and mind. The nutrient can be found in green tea and other natural supplements.
In fact, monks have been drinking tea for thousands of years because they say it helps maintain mental clarity and awareness during meditation. This effect is likely due to the L-Theanine found in tea. It is known to calm the mind while sharpening focus and attention, which may make it the perfect pre-workout supplement for yoga, as well as a popular brain-boosting nootropic supplement.
L-Citrulline + Pine Bark Extract – Circulation for Yoga
Found in watermelon, L-Citrulline is an amino acid that may help the body widen its blood vessels for better circulation to build muscle. L-Citrulline does this by increasing L-Arginine blood levels in the body. L-Arginine then helps with muscle growth and function. Ultimately, it may stimulate the creation of protein and increase the amount of protein in muscles by opening up the blood vessels.
Studies suggest L-Citrulline can help with performance during lower-body resistance exercises and upper body resistance exercises.[7,8] Since yoga works the entire body while targeting specific sections depending on the practice, L-Citrulline could be beneficial for your performance.
Pine Bark Extract, then, helps the bloodstream absorb nitric oxide (NO) by supplying proanthocyanidins. These are antioxidants that help control inflammation and oxidative stress you may experience while doing yoga. When the body absorbs more NO, its blood vessels become relaxed in order to control blood pressure and energy flow to the muscles.
As a result, Pine Bark Extract and L-Citrulline supplements used together may be an ideal pre-workout stack to help get more oxygen and less stress to your muscles during yoga.
L-Glutamine – Support for Muscle Health and Comfort
L-Glutamine is the most prominent amino acid in the human body and it’s concentrated in the muscles. When the body does an intense workout, it depletes L-Glutamine, which leads to inflammation. More L-Glutamine in the body may lead to less inflammation after exercise, according to research. As such, we believe it is a good supplement to look into if you have trouble with inflammation during of after your yoga practice.
L-Glutamine alo absorbs excess ammonia, forms urea, and can help produce other amino acids in the body. One of those amino acids, glutathione, is a potent antioxidant that may fight immune challenges linked to too much exercise.
Oxidative stress is also linked to too much exercise; Luckily, l-glutamine can help relieve such stress. When oxidative stress occurs, the body produces lactic acid to tell the muscles to slow down. An L-Glutamine supplement may stop the production of lactic acid to prolong efficient use of the muscles.
Hot Yoga Supplements – Natural Hydration Stack
Hot yoga is an intense style of yoga practice. It’s called hot yoga because the room you practice in is set to anywhere from 80-105 degrees °F., plus about 40% humidity. Therefore, it makes you sweat, A LOT.
Basically, hot yoga takes a lot of fluids and electrolytes out of a person in an attempt to detoxify the body, build balance, and increase flexibility. That’s why it makes us sweat so much. As such, it’s important to identify which supplements can keep us effectively hydrated and stocked up on electrolytes throughout our practice. Otherwise, the body could experience negative effects like dizziness and heat stroke.
Hot Yoga Pre-Workout: Himalayan Pink Salt
If we don’t drink enough water before hot yoga, the body won’t have enough nutrients to keep it going, which may not end well considering how much the body sweats during hot yoga. While it seems counterproductive, consuming Himalayan Pink Salt may help the body stay hydrated to prevent any negative effects.
Himalayan salt is known to have extra trace minerals that may help the body maintain fluids and electrolyte levels during practice. In addition, salt might even help the body absorb amino acids more efficiently; it’s a great complement to the restorative properties of coconut water crystals, according to research.
Hot Yoga Post-Workout: Coconut Water Crystals
Coconut water crystals are known to provide electrolytes similar to sports drinks. When the body sweats during hot yoga, it sweats out electrolytes along with water from the body.
Coconut water supplies such electrolytes, which include sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. It also provides glucose, which makes it one of the best supplements for rehydrating and restoring glycogen in order to energize muscles after exercise.
While you can certainly just drink coconut water, coconut water crystals may be more convenient. You can put them in your water, smoothies, or even take them in capsules with a decent amount of water. Coconut water crystals are the perfect natural alternative to sugary, artificial sports drinks that many use to replenish electrolytes. They work well with Himalayan salt, according to a study, making for a seemingly perfect hydrating, nutritional supplement for avid hot yogis.
Turmeric – Ancient Ayurvedic Herb for Joint Comfort
Turmeric has been used for centuries as a spice in Indian cooking and as a medicine to treat various conditions. It contains curcumin, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics. The antioxidants in turmeric protect against oxidative stress, something that can lead to chronic inflammation and other serious conditions.
Yoga practitioners usually have to be able to hold poses for certain periods of time, making inflammation a crucial factor in performance. Thus, turmeric may be good for yogis, especially those who are just starting out and/or having trouble with chronic inflammation. Turmeric is all natural with no toxic effects, making it one of the best supplements for yogis in our opinion.
Vegan Algae Omega 3s – Whole-Body Inflammation Modulation
Vegan Algae Omega 3s are a plant-based source of polyunsaturated fatty acids including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids may be beneficial to yogis suffering from achy joints or arthritis because they help create hormones that regulate inflammation. Omega 3s are said to be safer than NSAIDS like ibuprofen for treating inflammation with the same helpful effects.
Essentially, Vegan Algae Omega 3s provide natural, plant-based Omega-3s without as many health and environmental concerns as Omega-3s that come from fish oils. Vegan Algae is more sustainable than popular fish oils containing the same fatty acids because algae is one of the largest renewable sources of omega 3s and energy, unlike fish. A sustainable vegan Omega-3 source just seems a better fit for an enlightened yoga lifestyle.
Pre-workout yoga is a great way to increase flexibility, balance, and reduce stress in the mind and muscles before a more intense workout. Relatively, certain pre-workout supplements may complement a full yoga practice perfectly. The article you’ve just read is only intended as a quick introduction to a much deeper topic. And remember before you go searching for yoga supplements, more research needs to be done in this area to determine whether pre-workout products can legitimately increase performance during yoga.
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