When people establish a fitness routine, one of the most important considerations is what type of exercise you’ll do each day. Will it be a cardio workout like a run, HIIT workout, or spin class? Should it be a strength training day? Where does yoga fit in? Establishing a good workout routine hinges upon balancing different types of workouts.
If you find yourself asking, “Should I do yoga before or after workout?” you’re already in a great place. Doubling up on two different forms of exercise in one session is a clear indication of your commitment to your health and fitness journey.
Yoga alone can be a challenging workout, but it also complements other forms of exercise very well. For this reason, if you have the time and motivation, you may want to do yoga before or after another workout.
But should you do yoga before or after running or other cardio? Should you do yoga before or after strength training or lifting weights? If you’re looking to maximize the benefits of your workouts, keep reading to learn how to best combine yoga with other types of exercise and whether you should do yoga before or after your workout.
In this guide, we’re going to look at:
- Benefits Of Adding Yoga To Your Workout Routine
- Should I Do Yoga Before Or After Workout?
- Benefits of Doing Yoga After a Workout
- Benefits of Doing Yoga Before a Workout
- The Verdict: Should I Do Yoga Before Or After a Workout?
Let’s get started!
Benefits Of Adding Yoga To Your Workout Routine
There are two primary reasons you might be asking: Should I do yoga before or after workout? You are probably either a diehard yogi looking to add other forms of exercise to your regular yoga practice or you are active in other forms of exercise and are looking to add yoga to balance out your fitness routine.
In the case of the former, you are probably already well aware of the benefits of yoga, but if you’re approaching yoga as a newcomer, it’s helpful to touch upon the benefits of adding yoga to your workout routine.
Understanding the benefits of adding yoga into your fitness program can help you decide if you should do yoga before or after your workout.
Studies have shown that a consistent yoga practice can increase flexibility and mobility, reduce chronic pain and back pain, improve breathing, strengthen the entire body, improve balance and posture, increase circulation, and reduce stress and anxiety.
Should I Do Yoga Before Or After Workout?
Fortunately, you’ll reap the benefits of adding yoga to your fitness routine whether you do yoga before or after your workout, but it may be better to structure things one way over than other depending on your fitness goals, the type of workout you’re going to do (cardio or strength training), and the style of yoga you are practicing.
Doing yoga before a workout can be beneficial because yoga increases circulation and can help warm up your muscles before a more vigorous workout.
For example, rather than going directly from sitting at a desk all day to heading out of the office to do a hard run, moving through a few Sun Salutations can elevate your heart rate, warm up tight muscles, and connect you to your breath.
On the other hand, doing yoga after a workout is a great way to transition your body from a high-intensity, heart-pumping exercise to a resting state.
Let’s examine the benefits of doing yoga before and after a workout more closely.
4 Benefits of Doing Yoga After a Workout
Even though perhaps your first inclination after finishing running or doing a sweat-dripping cardio workout is to guzzle a full bottle of water or sports drink, take a shower, and then put your feet up and relax, taking some time to roll out your yoga mat and doing a few poses can afford a variety of mental and physical benefits, including the following:
1. Doing Yoga Is a Great Cool-Down After Cardio
Doing yoga after cardio guides your heart rate and respiration rates back down. When you run, cycle, swim, row, or do some other form of cardio, your heart is pumping much harder and faster than at baseline in order to meet the oxygen demands of your working muscles.
If you go directly from intense cardio to a shower or resting, your heart rate plummets, which can lead to blood pooling in your lower extremities. Not only can this cause lightheadedness, but it can also contribute to delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in the days following the workout.
Doing yoga after running or cardio facilitates the cardiovascular transition from high activity to the resting state.
2. Doing Yoga After a Workout Can Reduce Muscle Soreness
Yoga as a cool down after cardio reduces your heart rate more gradually while still perfusing your muscles with blood. This helps flush out metabolic waste products from intense exercise and bring reparative nutrients and oxygen, which can reduce soreness.
In fact, studies show that incorporating yoga into your workout routine can reduce DOMS.
3. Doing Yoga After a Workout Can Increase Flexibility
Many yoga poses focus on lengthening and stretching muscles and connective tissues surrounding a joint. In this way, yoga has been shown to increase flexibility.
Because holding yoga poses is most akin to static stretching, it is best to do yoga after your workout. Research shows that static stretching can temporarily reduce strength output, so doing yoga before a workout can potentially compromise your performance in the workout.
Ideally, your warmup routine should involve dynamic stretching and your cool down should focus on static stretches such as yoga poses.
4. Doing Yoga After a Workout Boosts Well-Being
Doing yoga as part of your cool-down from a tough workout allows you the mental space to reflect on your workout, connect with your breath and your body, calm your mind, center your thoughts, and face the rest of the day with a positive mindset.
3 Benefits of Doing Yoga Before a Workout
Even though in most cases, it’s better to do yoga after a workout, there are some benefits to finding your flow on your yoga mat before hitting the treadmill or tackling a set of heavy squats. Benefits of doing yoga before a workout include the following:
1. Doing Yoga Before a Workout Eases You Into Exercise
Let’s face it: from a mental standpoint, it’s not always easy or motivating to jump into a hard workout. Between being overtired and overcommitted, we all have days where we are fighting the voice inside our head that’s begging us to blow off the workout and binge watch something on Netflix instead.
Rolling out a yoga mat and working through a few warm-up poses can ease the transition into a hard workout and can get you in the right headspace to focus and push yourself. Yoga before a workout can be an approachable way to get you moving. Once you start, you’ll feel more motivated and mentally ready to tackle more intense exercise.
2. Yoga Before a Workout Can increase Your Mind-Body Connection
One of the benefits of yoga is that it increases the mind-body connection, which means you’ll have better body awareness and will feel more connected to your breath.
Doing yoga before a workout can potentially improve core activation, breath control, and overall coordination for the rest of your workout.
3. Yoga Before a Workout Can Warm Up Muscles
Although holding yoga poses for an extended period of time is like static stretching and is therefore probably counterproductive before a workout, if you do yoga more along the lines of dynamic stretching, it can be an effective part of your warmup routine.
Dynamic stretching increases blood flow to your muscles and prepares them for exercise. It also helps increase the temperature of the body, warm up tissues, and elevate the heart rate, so that you don’t go immediately from the cold and resting state to vigorous jump squats, running, or other highly-active and demanding exercise.
If you do want to do yoga before your workout, move through poses quickly, transitioning from one to another in a fairly fast flow to mimic dynamic stretching. Doing yoga poses like cat-cow can be perfect for warming up before a workout.
The Verdict: Should I Do Yoga Before Or After a Workout?
The short answer is that in most cases, you should do yoga after a workout, particularly if the workout requires strength more than flexibility. Indeed, most fitness professionals agree that you should do yoga after lifting weights or strength training and you should do yoga after running or cardio as well.
Doing yoga before a workout can actually inhibit your performance by reducing overall strength. Moreover, there is more to gain by doing yoga after a workout, especially after an intense cardio session.
That said, if it’s more feasible to squeeze in yoga on the front end of your workout, you’ll absolutely still reap plenty of amazing benefits from including yoga in your workout routine.
In other words, do not let the fact that doing yoga after a workout is somewhat more productive prevent you from finding your flow on the mat. Your body and mind will thank you, no matter when or how you structure your fitness routine.
All the idea but no gear?
How about checking out our article on what to wear to your yoga class: