I love to lift weights.
I love to sweat and find that ‘second wind’ in a workout, proving time and time again to
myself that I can meet and sometimes surpass my own expectations.
Why Do We Do It?
Whether you’re a competitor or not, we’ve all experienced the clarity
and confidence that comes from lifting a heavy barbell or nailing a workout in the gym.
“Balance” is another word thrown around a lot – this is unique to everyone depending
on what their goals are. Regardless, sometimes we need to tap out. Because stillness is
often where the answers lie.
It’s human nature to be hard-wired for activity ALL. THE. TIME.
Our ancestors constantly needed to be in a ‘fight or flight’ state, protecting their loved
ones, on the hunt for their next meal, escaping from danger and seeking safe spaces.
This is also where the human tendency for immediate gratification comes from.
In a new world of technology, smartphones, and Deliveroo, we have excess at our
fingertips and somehow have to refrain from it. Hence why the common “trust the
process” piece of advice is sometimes easier said than done.
I’ll come back to the relevance of all of this.
My yoga journey began with a similar need to you – a way to recover my
body from training.
What makes yoga unique to the multitude of mobility/recovery tools on the market?
Well, it’s the source for one. Believed to date as far back as the 3rd century BC, yoga
uses the breath to inform the practice (rather than as a separate methodology).
The poses themselves are like a moving mediation and it’s the breath that allows us to
find that sense of space.
Think about it. When you’re stressed or scared, the first thing the body does is constrict
breath. Without releasing this physical stress, there’s not much in the way of movement
we can do to reverse it.
A recovery practice isn’t about contorting the body into uncomfortable postures –
it’s about using the breath to inform how far your body can achieve a stretch, and often,
“maxing out” in a stretch probably isn’t good.
Rhythm in our breath should correspond with a sense of symmetry or as yogis call it,
“equanimity” in the body. And now we start to see how it’s all Connected.
A Regular Practice
The word “meditation’” can sometimes be intimidating. We have visions of monks sitting
cross-legged for hours in silence.
All I call it is taking time out – even a few minutes – to reconnect with the breath (see
my video below for an easy 10-minute daily practice you can follow).
Why is this important?
I was actually thrown into the deep end when I was introduced to a daily breathing
practice – during my yoga teacher training, 4:30 am, silence, darkness, the sound of our
Swami (teacher) chanting in the middle of the Himalayas.
My point is this – create the environment, a quiet space for one. Maintain a comfortable
position – you can even lie down. And – have faith it’ll work. Trust the process.
Of course, sitting still even for a few minutes goes against our nature but creating the
habit definitely makes it easier.
What we’re trying to do is divert our attention back (because it will get sidetracked) to
our breath – which is why having a set count to focus on helps.
There’s no use in trying to drown out thoughts – we have millions, lots of them totally
subconscious, daily. The art is in getting accustomed to observing them without
It’s this process that starts to create headspace – we physically begin to relax and our
bodies are now optimally primed for a yoga/mobility/recovery practice.
Breathing for life.
Having a regular practice begins to have a positive impact on everyday situations.
We’re incredibly reactionary beings – again, by nature. Feel yourself getting ready to
react negatively to something someone has said?
Take a deep breath. I actually like to take 10 deep breaths as a practice – wherever I
am – when I have feelings of agitation or anxiety about something.
Try it and you’ll find that your next move will probably be very different from what it
We’re so inundated with signals, messages, information all day long – it can be
all-consuming. A simple but effective practice such as this has, quite honestly, just made
me chill out a bit more.
It has had endless positive effects on my interactions and therefore my relationships –
and that’s ultimately what we want. To be better wives, husbands, fathers, friends.
Channeling male and female energy in equal amounts is important (in the context of this
blog, ‘training’ energy versus ‘recovery’ energy).
They both optimally feed into each other – a breathing practice encourages greater
mental and physical awareness, something you can optimize in training (when it comes
to effectively breathing during, as well as tuning into how physically primed or fatigued
Having masculine energy doesn’t mean you are ‘masculine’ – same for the other way
It’s crucial to tap into both for our sense of ‘balance’ that we’re constantly craving.
With love and light,
Learn more about all the benefits yoga can provide you as an athlete and how you can add it to your training by checking out Annika’s page on Instagram at @yogafortheathlete.