Health & Wellness Blog

Yoga for Lifting

What is Yoga for Lifting about?

By Darren Bain Yoga for Lifting may just change your life for the better! I know what you maybe thinking – ‘Yoga is for Soccer Mums and hippies. How is Yoga going to help me in Met Con classes, on the gym floor, in everyday life or, what we all want at the end of the day, to look good naked?’ If you are new to Yoga you’ll be quite surprised by how much it will help you with these, plus much, much more!

Yoga for Lifting Flyer


“Don’t knock it till you try it”

Yoga for Lifting is designed to improve your mobility for the functional movements you need both here in the gym and in your every day life.

Everything will be better with Yoga for Lifting.

We believe that a balance between Yin and Yang is imperative to function well. Our Yin and Yang philosophy here at Function Well is based on Chinese philosophy.  YIN  is the “oil” that fuels the fire. In order to stay motivated you need  oil and the more you have, the more YANG you can output.  YANG  is the “fire” which is your motivation to train, work hard and  get things done in life. Essentially, to make YANG (train hard) you need YIN (relaxation/recovery).

Here’s 5 Reasons to do Yoga for Lifting

1. Your Lack of Mobility Could be Holding you Back
In my recent blog, Your Body is Saying “Stretch & Mobilise Me”, I explained how your lack of mobility could be holding you back from reaching your full potential. Along with relieving you from the host of aches and pains you are suffering from (likely due to your poor mobility). Improving your mobility has immense potential to improve the other 9 physical skills that make up true fitness: cardiovascular endurance, stamina, strength, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy. Improving your flexibility in key areas such as your ankles, hips, hamstrings, shoulders and thoracic spine could be the missing link you need to squat deeper, run faster, perfect the Olympic lifts and generally perform better for whatever it is that you do. I recently listened to a podcast by the USA head gymnastics coach, Christopher Sommer, which really reinforced the importance of being mobile. He had some great points, in particular and very relative to this article, the importance of mobility for lifting. He stated, “there isn’t a child on this planet that can’t do all mobility movements. Poor mobility is a created disability through poor training technique (and from sitting in front of a desk all day). If you have poor mobility and all you do is get strong all you did was pour gasoline on the fire – you made it worse”. He also mentioned that  if you have poor mobility or you are new to training, improving/having a focus on mobility is even more important than strength (to begin with).

2. Core to Extemity Principle
For those that completed my recent Mobility Workshops as part of our 6 Weeks of Function Wellness we spoke about the importance of midline stabilization, creating torque and core to extremity. Most of the poses you will be completing in Yoga for Lifting support these same concepts. Functional movement is a wave of contraction from core to extremity. Core = CNS = our spine. Every movement in the extremities is generated through the core first. So first thing we need to do is address the midline/neutral spine. Any deviation of the spine means decreased force production and increased risk of injury. If your mobility is limited, you will struggle to maintain these natural curves of the spine when lifting.
What does all this mean? Using the ankle joint as an example: Do your feet turn out and or heels come off the ground when you squat – even better, test with the overhead squat? If so, this more than likely means that you have poor mobility through your ankles. It does not matter how strong you are, reaching your full athletic potential is going to be negatively impacted  from your limited mobility through your ankles, along with an increased risk of injury.
Here’s Why: If you have poor ankle mobility you are not going to achieve full range of motion (ROM) – Completing movements with full ROM means more muscle recruitment, which means better results. When there is restriction of a joint your body then creates a default lifting pattern that is not optimal. In relation to poor ankle mobility your bodies ability to create sufficient torque through your hips, knees and ankles (torque just means stability) is dramatically reduced. Midline stabilization and torque are 2 parts of a unified system; you can’t have one without the other. So if you don’t have torque/stability (which you won’t have optimally with poor ankle mobility), you won’t be able to stabilize the midline, which means you won’t produce as much force and your risk of injury is increased. This principle is important for everyone, whether you are an elite athlete, Mum, Dad or business person. Above is an example of the impact one restricted joint can have on your mechanics – the same applies to the knees, hips, shoulders and elbow joints. Do you suffer knee pain when you squat or shoulder pain with overhead movements? Then chances are these joints are tight and in need of mobility. You may get away with poor mobility and no control of the midline when lifting for weeks, months or even years but eventually the injury will come.

3. Learn to Chill out and Relax – Perfect for an Active Recovery Day
My wife and staff may say I’m in my glass house telling others to “chill out and relax”, we’ve all got our areas we need to work on right? So I’m taking their advice and focusing on consistency with my Yin activity. Life and training here at Function Well is primarily about training with intensity. But what’s important to understand is, in order to train with intensity consistently, you must incorporate restoration (rest and relaxation). Implementing restoration protocols allows you to come back with more power, focus, determination and motivation. After one month of Yoga for Lifting you’ll know what I’m talking about. High levels of stress is a serious problem in today’s world, we are often in a constant state of elevated cortisol. Yoga is a fantastic way to decrease cortisol and put the body into a Parasympathetic state (which is rest and restore). You will find after completing this class on a Wednesday evening you will have a great nights sleep waking up feeling on top of the world. This can be summed up in one word…Balance.

4. Injury Prevention
One of the major complaints we encounter is lower back and shoulder pain, particularly office workers due to the time spent in a flexed position in front of the computer. As I touched on in point 2 if you have poor mobility, efficient lifting mechanics is compromised. Without going into depth as to why this occurs, it has been put simply by Daniel Lieberman in his book ‘The Story of the Human Body’ – “the chair was the worst invention for the human body”. We are not designed to be seated for 8+ hours a day; without movement all sorts of physical, health and emotional problems become present. As Caren explained to me, ancient yoga postures were designed for sitting comfortably for long periods of time, for example in a lotus position where the spine is held neutral. This is the same spinal position we require when running, lifting weights, moving furniture, lifting the kids etc. The key to injury prevention is to be able to establish and maintain good positions across a variety of disciplines –and as I keep addressing, the 2 key points to achieving this are mobility and midline stabilisation…Yoga has a strong focus on these 2 crucial components.

 5. Repetition is the Mother of Skill
These classes will help you identify your worst areas of restriction and provide you with relative poses to do regularly (great option for a warm down) for significant gains. One yoga class a week is not going to improve your mobility. Roger Harrell, a well respected gymnastic coach, says “to improve your flexibility, you should stretch at least once a day, and, if possible, multiple times per day. Short, repeated exposure to stretching is more productive than a single intense, or long bout of stretching. For example, it is far better to stretch ten minutes per day, every day, than to stretch 70 minutes once a week”. Committing to 1-2 yoga sessions per week, in addition to 10 mins per day will provide significant improvements to your overall health and body composition.



Some of the Yoga for Lifting Poses  Applied to the Gym Floor The Downward Facing Dog

This pose targets commonly tight areas such as the hamstrings, back and lats. All of these muscles require a good level of mobility for you to complete common exercises such as the overhead Kettle Bell Swing or Overhead  Press for example.

The Eagle

This  pose  improves balance, which is important for any of the Olympic Lifts and Pistol Squats. It also targets shoulder mobility.

The Pigeon

There is many variations to the Pigeon, all forms of the pigeon are aimed at increasing  mobility through the hips. Which is important for the most fundamental movement pattern in our every day lives and that is the squat.

The Reclining Twist with Leg Extension 

 The ITB’s are muscles that are commonly tight. This a great movement to stretch the ITB’s and lower back. This restorative stretch along with other drills that will be incorporated into Yoga for Lifting will have you ready for running pain free in no time.

The Plow 

Do you  do dead-lifts, back extensions, squats? Then this is the perfect pose for lower back flexibility. Next time you do some deadlifts try the Plow the next day to help loosed up the lower back musculature.


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