Once an ancient practice, yoga has become increasingly popular in society as both a social and individual form of exercise and recovery. Whether using it as a treatment method for a health condition or as a part of a balanced workout routine, yoga offers physical and mental benefits for people of all ages. For this week’s Movement Memo, we asked Jacky Rodriguez, a certified yoga instructor and one of our newest fitness class trainers, a few questions about her experience with yoga as well as yoga’s role in our health.
Why did you initially become interested in yoga? What are your credentials, and how long have you been practicing?
JR: I found yoga as a result of a collegiate volleyball injury. I had surgery on my shoulder labrum and did not take the necessary time off for recovery, so I ended up retearing it. My doctor recommended yoga for rehabilitation, and I have been practicing ever since. I received my Power Yoga Teaching certificate in 2015 and my RYT 500 (Registered Yoga Teacher, 500 hours of yoga teacher training) shortly after. The combination of breath, movement, strength, and self-care that this practice offers has led me to my profession today. I also have four other yoga certificates – Yoga Sculpt, Power Fusion, Inversions and Balances, and Restorative Yoga.
Can you describe a few different styles of yoga practice (e.g., Vinyasa, Power, etc.) and how to incorporate each into a balanced workout routine?
JR: There are many different styles of yoga for all fitness levels, from professional athletes to individuals who are just looking to add in more movements or even just breathe with intention. When my doctor first told me to try yoga, I gave him an eyebrow raise and thought, “Yoga? I’m a Division I athlete and should be focusing on my strength and conditioning to stay strong and fit.” Thankfully, I listened to him because I could not have been more wrong. Any type of yoga practice can help to balance out a workout routine, but here are a few of my favorite styles:
- Power Vinyasa – This is what I personally started with, and to this day it is my favorite way to move. This practice allows you to challenge your body in new postures and poses as well as work on lengthening and strengthening the muscles, especially in the core. The Power Vinyasa practice pairs your breath with movement, challenging both your muscles and cardiovascular system.
- Yoga Sculpt – This strength-based yoga flow can be done with or without weights. This practice often intensifies classic yoga poses with strength-training moves and can be used to build lean muscle mass.
- Restorative Yoga – This involves holding asanas (postures) anywhere from 30-90 seconds with little to no muscle engagement. This practice can be used for recovery, especially in our busy and stressful lives, and as therapy for those with chronic health conditions.
- Hot Power Fusion – This type of yoga challenges your flexibility, core, and strength by holding poses anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. This heated type of yoga is a combination of meditation and strength.
What are some physical benefits of practicing yoga?
- Increased flexibility (especially for the big muscle groups we use during strength training) – One meta-analysis showed that yoga could slow the loss of flexibility and even improve overall flexibility in older adults.
- Increased strength – While often associated with mobility and flexibility, some yoga classes are also strength-building. The same 2019 meta-analysis showed significant strength and physical function improvement for those who regularly practiced yoga.
- Decreased joint pain– A recent study assessed an 8-week Hatha Yoga program on a population of patients with knee osteoarthritis. The study concluded that participants experienced decreased pain, increased function, improved lower extremity strength, decreased anxiety, and overall reduced fear of falling. The reduction in fear of falling is correlated with balance and stability developed from the yoga practice.
What are some mental/emotional benefits of practicing yoga?
- Stress relief – In a recent study, participants showed significantly decreased stress levels after 12 sessions of yoga.
- Overall mental health – A 2017 meta-analysis looked at the effects of yoga as a treatment for depressive symptoms. The study concluded that yoga could be an effective treatment method for reducing depression.
JR: Yoga helps us practice mindfulness and movement with purpose. For me, I find it helpful to use yoga to spend an hour a day away from my phone to focus on my breathing and movement.
What advice do you have for a beginner just starting out?
JR: Have an open mind! In my experience, it only took one 60-minute yoga class to change my negative perception of yoga. I always recommend trying new classes and being comfortable with feeling uncomfortable as you are learning and growing in your practice.
Are there any contraindications to practicing yoga?
JR: Always give a heads up to a yoga instructor, trainer, coach, etc., if you have any injuries. While not an absolute contradiction, anyone with abnormal blood pressure readings (hypotension or hypertension) should be mindful of moving slowly into headstands or inversions.
One easy way to get started is to try practicing yoga at home. Here are 5 YouTube yoga videos that SHIFT recommends:
- 10-Minute Night Yoga Stretch
- Yoga With Adriene- 20 minute Flow and Hip Opener
- Power Vinyasa Flow
- CorePower Yoga Sculpt (with weights)
- Restorative Yoga
Do you have questions about adding yoga into your movement routine? Reach out to your SHIFT team for guidance.
In Real Health,