Should You Do Yoga Before or After Workout? Find Out Here
Discover the ideal timing for yoga in relation to your workout. Find out whether to do yoga before or after workout to attain the best results and faster recovery.
Yoga has its roots in ancient practices, focusing on harmony between the mind and body. When applied alongside modern workouts, it provides a holistic approach to well-being. Practicing yoga before or after a workout has become common these days among fitness enthusiasts. Blending yoga into one's fitness journey can offer a balance between strength training and relaxation, ensuring the body is fully prepared or adequately cooled down.
Exercise is an essential part of daily routine for healthy people. Stretching and flexibility exercises in yoga help prepare the muscles for more strenuous activities. They also aid in recovery after an intense workout, reducing muscle soreness and tension.
Many fitness trainers recommend adding yoga before or after cardio along with regular workouts. Doing yoga for strength training helps in achieving better muscle strength, toning, increased flexibility, and mental calmness. Whether you're lifting weights, doing cardio, or any other form of exercise, pairing it with yoga ensures a comprehensive fitness routine that benefits both the mind and the body.
Why Do Yoga After a Workout?
Engaging in a yoga session post-workout can expedite your recovery process. Soreness often follows intense exercises like weight lifting, attributed to the breakdown of muscle fibers (1). Yoga stands out as a beneficial tool in enhancing muscle repair. It boosts blood and oxygen circulation to the tissues, promoting a quicker repair of the muscle fibers (2).
Can I Do Yoga Before a Workout?
Yoga can also be practiced before a workout, but it's usually more beneficial when performed afterward, especially following cardio exercises. However, there's a valid exception — adding pre-workout stretching as an essential part of your warm-up routine. A well-stretched body can perform better when it comes to high-intensity training. s. Even yoga on rest days may be a great idea for muscle recovery.
What Are the Benefits of Doing Yoga After Workout?
Incorporating yoga post-workout sessions can elevate your fitness routine and improve your overall well-being. Let's explore the benefits of stretching it out on the yoga mat after burning those calories.
1. May Improve Recovery Time
Yoga is renowned for promoting relaxation and reducing muscle tension. By integrating specific asanas post-workout, you can expedite muscle recovery and reduce the risk of injury (3). A study by the International Journal of Yoga shows that certain yoga stretches may enhance blood circulation, reduce blood pressure, nourish the muscles with essential nutrients, and pave the way to faster recovery (3).
2. May Enhance Flexibility
Post-workout muscles are warm and more elastic. Integrating yoga after lifting at this time can further the range of motion in joints and enhance overall flexibility (4). Over time, this can contribute to better performance in future workouts and a decreased risk of injuries.
3. May Balance the Nervous System
A vigorous workout may stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, responsible for the fight or flight response. Yoga, after cardio, focuses on deep breathing and relaxation and activates the parasympathetic nervous system (5). This shift helps in reducing post-workout cortisol levels, promoting peace, and preparing the body for rest and repair (5).
4. May Increase Mindfulness And Awareness
Concluding a workout session with yoga can also boost mental well-being (6). The meditative aspect of yoga may cultivate mindfulness, helping individuals stay present and aware of their body's needs and sensations (6). It can also lead to better body awareness, recognizing when the body needs rest or is ready to push its limits.
Practicing yoga post-workout is more than just an extended cool-down. It complements physical exertion with mental relaxation and self-awareness, ensuring you're fit and emotionally and mentally balanced.
8 Best Yoga Poses to Do After a Workout
After pushing your body through a rigorous workout, it's essential to give it some tender loving care to aid recovery and relaxation. Yoga, with its soothing and deep stretching poses, can be the perfect cooldown routine. This gentle practice not only helps in stretching those worked-up muscles but also centers your mind, bringing a sense of calm after the storm. Here are some of the best post-workout yoga poses to help you release tension, increase flexibility, and enjoy a state of relaxation post-exercise.
1. Legs Up the Wall
Inversions in yoga, where your legs are elevated, are known to have therapeutic effects. The 'Legs Up' pose aids in reversing blood flow, which can help in quick muscle recovery.
How to Do
- Lie on your back, and move your buttocks close to a wall.
- Rest your legs straight up on the wall.
- Lie on your back and place a yoga strap around the balls of your feet.
- Hold for up to 15 minutes.
2. Knee to Chest
This pose offers a gentle stretch to your hamstrings and lower back. It's the ideal choice after leg-intensive workouts.
How to Do
- Lie on your back with your legs straight.
- Bend your right knee up toward your chest.
- Hug it close, ensuring your back remains on the floor.
- Hold for 20 seconds, then switch sides.
3. Forward Bend
The Forward Bend elongates your spine and provides relief to your hamstrings, especially after intense leg routines.
How to Do
- Stand upright.
- Bend your upper body forward, allowing your arms to dangle towards the floor.
- Maintain a slight bend in the knees if needed.
- Remain in this pose for about 30 seconds, then rise slowly.
- Use a yoga block for support or increased flexibility.
Modification: Hands can be interlaced behind your back for an added shoulder stretch.
4. Runner’s Lunge
Ideal after cardio or running sessions, this pose deeply stretches the hip flexors and the front of the thigh.
How to Do
- From a kneeling position, extend your right leg back.
- Place your hands on the mat inside your left foot, keeping the left knee bent.
- Deepen the lunge with each exhale, ensuring a straight back.
- Hold for one minute, then switch sides.
Modification: A block can be used under the hands for added height.
5. Wheel Pose
After workouts that compress your chest or back, this pose is a boon. It helps in opening up the chest and promoting better posture.
How to Do
- Lie down with your knees bent and your feet near your buttocks.
- Clasp your hands under your pelvis and elevate the hips.
- Stay lifted for 30 seconds.
Modification: Use a block under the lower back for better elevation.
6. Plow Pose
This deep stretch offers decompression, especially for the spine and the back muscles.
How to Do
- Lie down and lift your legs towards the ceiling.
- Support the lower back with your hands.
- Slowly lower your legs overhead, trying to touch the floor.
- Stay for one minute.
Modification: Use a block behind the head to gradually deepen the stretch.
7. Sphinx Pose
This gentle backbend is perfect for stretching the abdominals and the front of the body.
How to Do
- Lie on your stomach, elbows under your shoulders.
- Press up, resting on the forearms.
- Hold for 30–60 seconds.
Modifications: Adjust the distance between elbows and torso for comfort.
8. Corpse Pose
This pose is a traditional way to conclude consistent yoga practice. It allows for complete relaxation and reflection.
How to Do
- Lie flat on your back, arms and legs comfortably apart.
- Stay in this pose, focusing on your breath and relaxing each part of your body.
After a challenging workout, your body craves relaxation. These yoga poses ensure that your muscles get the much-needed stretch, promoting faster recovery and reducing the chances of post-exercise stiffness. Ending your exercise routine with this yoga sequence will ensure a holistic fitness experience, catering to both body and mind. Once your workout session is over, ensure you hydrate, refuel, and take a brief rest.
What Are the Benefits of Doing Yoga Before a Workout?
Fitness enthusiasts are always searching for the optimal routine to maximize the benefits of their efforts. While most people swear by the benefits of yoga post-exercise, doing yoga before cardio or other exercises can be just as effective for some. Here are the advantages of yoga before getting into a more rigorous workout session.
1. May Help You Ease into Exercise
Beginning a workout, especially a challenging one, requires not just physical preparedness but also mental determination. At times, mental fatigue, lack of motivation, or the simple call of leisure can dissuade us from the very idea of exercise (6).
On such days, yoga before a run can be the bridge that eases the gap between inactivity and intense activity. Gentle yoga stretches can mentally prepare us by setting the tone for the workout. It gradually escalates from a state of rest to one of activity.
2. May Gear Up Your Session
By choosing to practice yoga as the initial step, we are allowing our minds and bodies to gear up slowly (7). The tranquility and focus that yoga promotes help mentally prepare us for the upcoming demanding routines. As the saying goes, well begun is half done. With yoga, not only do you start well, but you also pave the way for a more effective workout session.
3. May Enhance the Mind-Body Connection
Yoga poses require an acute awareness of one's body, the alignment, and the breath. Practicing yoga before a workout means going into your exercise session with heightened body awareness and reduced levels of stress hormones (8).
4. May Improve Your Focus
With an improved mind-body connection, you're more attuned to the needs of your body. This means better core activation, more controlled breathing, and enhanced overall coordination during the workout (8). Every squat, lunge, or sprint becomes more effective as you are more in tune with your body's movements.
5. May Warm Up the Muscles Better
While static stretches or holding yoga poses for a prolonged duration might not be the best way to warm up, dynamic yoga stretches can be the perfect preamble to any workout (9). Just like dynamic stretches, yoga before workout can increase blood flow, warm up the tissues, and gently elevate the heart rate (10).
Engaging in yoga poses that simulate dynamic stretching ensures you are not jolting your body from rest to intense action. Poses like cat-cow can be seamlessly added to your warm-up routine to prepare your muscles and joints for the more demanding activities that follow.
8 Best Yoga Poses to Do Before a Workout
Yoga before a workout session is a good decision. When your body is ready, you can easily get into an intense cardio session, weightlifting, or high-intensity training. Preparing your body well can help you reap the most benefits of a workout routine.
Let's explore some of the best yoga poses to prepare yourself for an effective workout.
1. Pelvic Tilts
This gentle movement warms up the spine and releases lumbar stiffness.
How to Do
- Lie down on your back with your knees bent.
- Gently press your lower back against the floor.
- Tilt your pelvis towards your face.
- Release and repeat.
2. Leg Lifts with Foot Flexing and Pointing
This movement helps stretch and warm up the hamstrings, calves, ankles, and foot muscles.
How to Do
- On your back, lift your legs perpendicular to the floor, individually or together.
- Firmly flex and then point your feet.
- Use a strap around the sole of your foot for added comfort, if needed.
3. Eye of the Needle Pose (Sucirandhrasana)
This pose provides a gentle stretch to the hips, offering relief to tight muscles from sitting or certain exercises.
How to Do
- Lie on your back.
- Cross your right ankle over the left knee.
- Optionally, draw your left knee toward your body for a deeper stretch.
- Switch legs after a minute or two.
4. Easy Pose (Sukhasana) with Neck Rolls
This combination warms up the spine, neck, and shoulders, releasing tension and improving flexibility.
How to Do
- Sit cross-legged.
- Place a blanket under your seat to elevate your hips if needed.
- Drop your chin to your chest and start rolling your head in a circle.
- Complete about five rotations in one direction, then switch.
5. Arm Position from Eagle Pose
This position stretches the shoulders and the upper back, perfect for those who carry tension in these areas.
How to Do
- Stay seated in Sukhasana.
- Cross your arms, bend them, and keep them parallel to the floor.
- Switch arms so both sides receive an equal stretch.
6. Seated Twist
Seated twists help in lubricating the spine and stimulating the digestive system.
How to Do
- Remain in Sukhasana.
- Twist to the right.
- Place your left hand on your right knee and the right hand behind you.
- Gaze gently over the right shoulder.
- Return to center and repeat on the left side.
7. Forward Bend in Easy Pose
This movement stretches the hips and lower back, preparing the body for deeper stretches or more intense exercises.
How to Do
- From Sukhasana, switch the position of your legs.
- Hinge from the hips and lean forward.
- Extend your hands out in front of you.
8. Cat-Cow Stretc
This dynamic stretch warms up the spine, enhances flexibility, and prepares the body for more advanced movements.
How to Do
- Get on all fours in a tabletop position.
- Arch your spine, looking up for the cow pose.
- Round your spine, tucking your chin to your chest for the cat pose.
- Continue this movement, syncing with your breath.
Preparing the body with gentle stretches and yoga poses can make a significant difference in your workout's effectiveness and safety. The above sequence aims to slowly wake up the body, promoting blood flow and ensuring that you're ready for whatever physical activity you have planned next.
When Is the Best Time to Do Yoga If You’re Strength Training
Deciding when to do yoga in a workout routine can be confusing. Some people might like doing yoga before strength training to get ready for the exercise. Others might prefer it afterward to relax and stretch their muscles.
For those who do weight lifting, it's often better to do yoga after. Yoga after weightlifting helps with muscle recovery and flexibility. But if someone wants to start with yoga, they should choose a type of yoga that focuses on moving, not just holding poses. This way, their muscles are ready for the weight lifting next.
Adding yoga to any workout is good. Whether you choose to do it before or after lifting weights, the main thing is that it should feel right for your body. The best yoga time is when you enjoy the postures and count on your breath.
Should You Do Yoga Before or After Cardio?
Practicing yoga before cardio isn't a bad idea. It can help prepare the body for exercise. But doing yoga after cardio might be even better. After cardio, muscles are warm and stretch better. After finishing cardio, it's good to drink water, eat something healthy, and rest a bit. Then, doing yoga can help stretch and relax the muscles. This combo is great for overall health and fitness.
How to Incorporate Yoga into Your Workout Routine?
Incorporating yoga into your regular workout is a balanced approach to wellness, better flexibility, added strength, and improved mental health. Let's explore the various ways in which you can seamlessly weave yoga into your fitness regimen.
1. Yoga as a Cool-Down
It may sound a little tricky, but a yoga and weightlifting schedule can actually create a great workout session for you. After your main workout and weightlifting, yoga serves as a therapeutic light session, lasting between 15-30 minutes, which can assist in reducing soreness and enhancing muscle growth.
- Relax and elongate muscles to minimize stiffness the next day.
- Diminish the potential for soft-tissue injuries resulting from overtraining.
- Key poses include restorative stretches like Pigeon, Lizard (knee down), and Downward-Facing Dog.
2. Yoga as a Warm-up
You can add yoga as a warm-up. Plan a concise yoga session before a weight training or calisthenics session, practice, or game.
- Activate and ready muscles for entire body movements.
- Align the body correctly for injury-free exercises.
- Prep muscles to avert poor workout form.
- Poses here are generally a bit challenging, like Plank and Side Bends, with each pose lasting no more than 30 seconds.
3. Yoga as a Stand Alone Workout
A complete yoga session, lasting between 30-60 minutes, preferably done the day before any other intense physical activity can prepare your body for intense training.
- Address body imbalances, such as favoring one side.
- Enhance motion range and fortify strength within that range.
- Bolster core strength and integration.
- Enhance balance and stability.
4. Yoga in the Morning to Compliment an Evening Workout
Morning yoga sessions can lead up to an evening workout or game, focusing mainly on profound, restorative stretching.
- Activate muscles to the point of light fatigue.
- Properly align the body for the rest of the day.
- Alleviate and lengthen strained muscles.
- Prepare the body for later activities.
- Beginning with warm-up poses like Low Lunge.
Yoga is not just an exercise; it's a holistic approach to fitness. Whether trying sun salutation as a primary fitness regimen or blending it with other workouts, it's pivotal to strike a balance. Overexerting can hinder physical fitness progress. Thus, strategizing these yoga sessions will not only enhance efficiency but will also lead to holistic health and the desired physique.
Combining yoga with your regular fitness activities can be greatly beneficial. Practicing yoga before or after a workout, both has its advantages. When done before, it serves as a great way to stretch and prepare for the upcoming exercise. Likewise, if practiced afterward, yoga helps in calming the body, stretching muscles, and aiding in faster recovery. Practicing yoga before or after your workout session is more about personal preference and the needs of your body. The goal is to achieve optimal well-being and make the most of your workout and yoga sessions. So, try both ways and see which fits best in your routine and lifestyle.