5 Great Exercises To Complement Your Yoga Practice

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Yoga continues to grow in popularity because of the tremendous amounts of health benefits that it can produce. It has also had a nice boost in popularity due to athletes and other fitness enthusiasts using it to complement their respective activities.

If your main focus is Yoga and you’ve been thinking about how to take it to the next level, maybe it’s time to look at some cross-training to complement your own Yoga practice. Here are 5 great exercises that are perfect ways to improve your Yoga.

Why Cross-Train

Cross-training is done by individuals of various backgrounds, with many different fitness goals. All fitness methods will have their limitations; by cross-training, you can improve on these limitations and become a more proficient Yoga practitioner.

Yoga will certainly make you stronger, but when your bodyweight is your only resistance, there will be a limit to your progression. Improving your overall strength (particularly in your shoulders and core) will increase your ability to get into poses, safely and efficiently.

Dumbbell Push Press

You are probably aware of how demanding Yoga is on your shoulders. For this reason, you will need a good strength builder that has direct shoulder involvement. The dumbbell push press is a very user-friendly exercise that will have major strength benefits for Yogis.

The dumbbell push-press is a full-body exercise that requires fluid body mechanics and coordination. Not only is it a good strength builder, but it will also develop more dynamic movement skills, that can be useful in certain types of Yoga practices.

To perform a dumbbell push press:
· Stand tall (in an athletic position) holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides.
· Bring the dumbbells up to your shoulders with your thumbs pointing towards you.
· While maintaining proper back alignment, squat down.
· Then, quickly drive through your heels back to the standing position.
· Without losing momentum, press the dumbbells up until your arms are fully extended.
· Slowly lower the dumbbells back to your shoulders.
· Repeat for 8-12 reps.

Dumbbell Bench Press

Sticking with another dumbbell exercise, we have the dumbbell bench press. This exercise uses the chest muscles as the primary mover, but there is a great deal of shoulder involvement as well. The muscles in your chest will play a pivotal role in getting in, and out, of difficult poses.

To perform a dumbbell bench press:
· Lay onto a flat bench with a pair of dumbbells in your hands and your arms fully extended.
· Make sure your feet are flat on the floor and your shoulder blades are tight together.
· While keeping a tight grip, slowly lower the dumbbells until they are even with your chest.
· Be sure not to let your elbows flare out too much and keep them close to your ribs.
· Return to the starting position.
· Repeat for 8-12 reps

Spiderman Plank

Cross-training to compliment your Yoga practice wouldn’t make sense if you weren’t making an attempt to improve core strength and stability. The Spiderman plank improves core strength as well as hip flexibility and balance.

To perform a Spiderman plank:
· Get into the forearm plank position.
· Contract your abdomen and maintain good postural alignment.
· Without elevating your hips, lift one knee to the outside of your body and touch your elbow.
· Return to the starting position.
· Repeat on with the opposite leg.
· Repeat for 5-10 reps with each leg.

Overhead Lunge

When looking for great exercises to complement your Yoga, be sure not to exclude lower body exercises. The overhead lunge is a great unilateral lower body strength builder that has a lot of core, shoulder, and arm activation.

To perform an overhead lunge:
· Hold a barbell, pair of dumbbells, or sandbag over your head with your arms fully extended.
· Keep your core tight and maintain good posture.
· While keeping your arms extended the entire time, take one step out in front of you.
· Slowly lower your knee to the ground.
· Push off the floor through your foot and return to the starting position.
· Repeat with the opposite foot.
· Repeat for 8-12 reps on each leg.

Cardiovascular Exercises

Regular participation in Yoga classes will undoubtedly increase your cardiovascular fitness levels. However, it would take a large amount of time to elicit the calorie burning and fat loss benefits that can be derived from other exercise modalities.

By performing a cardiovascular exercise to complement your Yoga, you will get tremendous calorie burning and weight loss results. Performing a cardio workout on any piece of fitness equipment commonly found in the gym is a good start.

Try this simple cardiovascular workout on an elliptical:
· 30 Seconds max effort
· 15 Seconds low effort
· 30 Seconds max effort
· 15 Seconds low effort
· 30 Seconds max effort
· 15 Seconds low effort
· 30 Seconds max effort
· 15 Seconds low effort
· Begin rotating the pedals in the opposite direction.
· 30 Seconds max effort
· 15 Seconds low effort
· 30 Seconds max effort
· 15 Seconds low effort
· 30 Seconds max effort
· 15 Seconds low effort
· 60 Seconds medium effort
· Repeat for a total of 3 rounds.

There is no denying the fact that almost everyone can enjoy the positive health benefits that Yoga has to offer. If you are an active Yogi and think that it’s time to add some cross-training into your practice, what are you waiting for?

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