Many fitness experts categorize activity that is both weighted by the body and a healthy stretch for the muscles and connective tissues as “pre-habilitation”. Essentially, pre-habilitation is the movements we make to avoid injuries that require rehabilitation. This has, for me, become more and more important as I have aged. And, if you’re not yet 40+ years old, I hate to spoil the surprise, but your body is going to become substantially more injury prone.
Examples of pre-habilitation movements include properly done lunges, back lunges with a twist, spider-man crawl, inch worm, bunny hops, core work, and a host of others that can be utilized as an effective warm-up or as an extended workout (depending on your goals).
As a cross training exercise that promotes pre-habilitation, flexibility, focus, concentration, and general fitness, I cannot find a more effective pursuit than Yoga. Yes, I said Yoga. For those of you that don’t know me, I’m currently eating crow.
There was a time in the not so distant past when I rejected the idea of Yoga with such fervor and ignorance, that words cannot do justice. I’ve also learned that we mock what we do not understand (until we decide to move through life with an open mind).
Yes, it’s Yoga – the practice of those who run in the “fruit loops and wind chimes” pack (as I once said but no longer say). You don’t need to be “slim and bendy” ladies, and you don’t have to grow Rastafarian hair to practice Yoga gents. Just be you. Yoga classes may be the most diverse places on earth, so you’ll fit right in if you attend.
Simply put, Yoga works. If I can do it, surely you can also. My flexibility rivals that of a 2X4. I often fall out of position as a group of inflexible muscles fight with the rest of me. I hit the floor with a thud at times (did I mention Yoga is also great for ego control), and the deep, focused breathing is the only thing that keeps me from yelling out loud like I’m pushing huge weight at the gym.
Yoga works, I assure you. But, not just any Yoga – seek out Ashtanga Yoga if you’re looking for a great balance of stretching, near constant movement, and physically demanding practice. Ashtanga is a hot yoga format; so expect the room to be over 90 degrees while you follow a specific pattern of movements over and over again.
Focus on your breathing – your Ujjayi (translated as “victorious”) breath. Wikipedia describes this as, “a diaphragmatic breath, which first fills the lower belly (activating the first and second chakras), rises to the lower rib cage (the third and fourth chakras), and finally moves into the upper chest and throat…inhalation and exhalation are both done through the nose.” If you abandon this breathing technique, you’ll find yourself panting and out of breath – unable to keep up with the active format of the class. In short, your breath is your priority.
Try Yoga. I believe you’ll find this practice to be full of benefits and a great addition to your training regimen.