I spent over two decades as a fitness instructor and mixed martial art competitor and instructor. I’m a big advocate of “cross training” as well as “functional training”, terms that mean practicing other exercises than your usual favourites and training in such a way that it is useful in your daily movement. It is well known in the fitness world that repetitive injury is quite common if an exercise is being done regularly. Cross training is smarter when you include all 6 components of fitness which are: cardiovascular, strength, flexibility, agility, endurance and balance.
As a yoga educator, I continue to advocate cross and functional training to help yogis practice with minimal injuries and have fun. In the yoga world, I mean practice both intense yoga such as Ashtanga, power, or vinyasa and compliment it with the less intensive restorative, yin and gentle yoga movements. To help students stay physically and emotionally strong I also encourage weight training, cardiovascular activities and mindfulness to embrace the “middle way” that is often missing in fitness or even some yoga practices and thus in life.
In my travels as an educator I have noticed a lot more injuries are surfacing in the yoga world. Such injuries often occur at the major joints like the wrist, shoulders, hips and knees and mainly from repetitive movements – a good reason to practice a variety of styles of yoga and fitness programs.
For example, if you only have time for 4 classes a week, a good mix is 2 power or vinyasa, 1 restorative or yin, and 1 gentle class. This not only gives your body a chance to rest and heal but also prevents injuries. If you still enjoy going to the gym like me, you can add in at least 1 session of weight training and 2 sessions of cardiovascular activities a week to keep the muscles and the heart, strong and healthy.
Most importantly, whatever you chose to practice, ask yourself, “Am I enjoying this?”
Happy cross training!