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Real-World Example of Yoga's Impact

You may have heard of former semi-professional baseball player and professional coach, Kevin Pillifant. Wanderlust interviewed him about his athletic career and about his time as a trainer with the Chicago White Sox.  As an athlete he obviously understands the value of working out and physical activity, but he also had some surprising insights about yoga. Prior to 2013, he had not practiced, however after he was introduced to yoga and experienced its benefits, there was no turning back for him.

Immediately after that first yoga session Pillifant felt so many benefits that he kept going back for more, which included attending a regular yoga classes in the early morning. Pillifant began to realize the more he practiced, the stronger and more flexible he felt, and then he started feeling an irresistible pull to keep practicing. He began to add yoga to his own daily workout routines, and eventually this led him to incorporate yoga into his training methods for other athletes. At the end of a run for example, he would have the athletes practice yoga as a form of recovery from their strenuous exercising. As time went on, the athletes in his training group came to appreciate the recovery benefits. In a sense, yoga also gave Pillifant some purpose in life since he knew he needed to avoid heading out late in the evenings for drinks since he really wanted to be on time for those early morning sessions. Since the physical, mental and spiritual benefits Kevin Pillifant experienced were so helpful to him, he eventually became a certified yoga teacher.

Part of Pillifant’s yoga enthusiasm had to do with the variety of ways that non-yogis and athletes can benefit from practice. He explained that there are three main ways he uses yoga to help train professional athletes.

     1. Since it’s important to properly stretch in order to prevent workout injuries, yoga should be integrated as an injury prevention method. That same increased muscle strength and flexibility found through yoga means it is an ideal way to strengthen joints in order to prevent injuries caused by working out. Pillifant now integrates those same yoga practices into his athletic training career in Colorado.

     2. When athletes are training for more intense competitions it’s also critical to end workouts with a gentler stretching exercise to bring the body back to a resting state. You’ve probably heard that stretching your body before and after any workout is a good idea, and yoga is a really great way to stretch after working out. Practicing yoga once you’ve completed a difficult or intense workout allows your body to ease out of that more intense workout mode and will even help you become more effective in your workout or training session the following day.

     3. Finally, yoga can be very helpful in physical rehabilitation. He found that the yoga poses practiced by his athletes who had knee surgery were instrumental in their healing process. The athletes who adopted an exercise routine involving yoga both before and after surgery healed a little quicker and they became stronger and more flexible a bit sooner than those who didn’t incorporate yoga into their rehab exercises. Since yoga poses are easily modified for varying skill levels, an added benefit is that athletes can begin practicing yoga sooner after surgery than other methods of physical therapy.

All of this information is great for athletes, but what about everyday people who aren’t training for the big leagues of baseball? It turns out, yoga is really great for those of us who work out in general, and especially for those of us who incorporate running into our routines. As a runner, increased strength and stability are pretty important but can be difficult to achieve. This is where yoga classes for non-yogis come in!

While you might be seeing the benefits of yoga but you’re not quite sure how to go about incorporating it into your running workouts, a great way to get started is with this online yoga video for runners by Runner’s World. Take a look – they recommend a couple of simple yoga tools and the video is not very long. When you consider the entire workout is only about 25 minutes and it works your whole body while improving stability, flexibility, and strength, it’s hard not to dive right in. Here’s the link: http://www.runnersworld.com/runners-world-yoga-center/class-1-essential-yoga?cid=soc_Runner%27s%20World%20-%20RunnersWorld_FBPAGE_Runner%E2%80%99s%20World__Yoga_Yoga

In case you do want a little more help or an in-person training session on how yoga can be effective for non-yogis, you can always contact us. Whether you practice on your own or take a few courses, integrating yoga into your workouts is a smart move. 

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