It comes down to balance folks. Ying & Yang (hard and soft) the harmonious duality of training. Too much emphasis on strength, tension, hypertrophy can be and often is problematic. This negatively impacts health, performance and day to day function. Contrarily, too much emphasis on flexibility, above average range of motion, hypermobile joints and a general lack of stability isn’t ideal either. A common problem for us fitness minded folks is we tend to do the things we like.. (over and over) and we tend to avoid things we need. Here’s the irony. The things we need more of can help us excel in the activities we enjoy (what?) Let me present some common ground between Kettlebell training and Yoga practice:
- Both are true disciplines (Movement Based Strength Practice)
- Both demand segmental control and awareness
- Both can impact every facet of your life – positively
- Both provide outstanding cross training benefits
- Both will have nervous system stimulation effect
Yogies can take one look at the kettlebell lifts like the windmill, get up, overhead press and truly respect or at least appreciate the beauty, elegance and effort behind the lift. This can be said about the handstand, crow or warrior pose in Yoga. Movement is movement but methods and delivery can differ. To become good and eventually great at something, we need to place similar stress on the body but attack it slightly differently. This can be called a specialized variety. Here’s the thing, at no point can bodyweight training (yoga in this case) be a bad thing. Proprioceptive input and our ability to move our own body (without external load) is always beneficial, no matter what type of athlete, person or the goal.
One other problem is most folks who need it, are completely oblivious to the fact that they need it. I believe Mike Boyle (strength & conditioning coach based out of Boston MA) mentioned the “people who need yoga never do it but the folks doing Yoga all the time don’t “need” it as much anymore.” We live in a world of more is better.. or at least that’s what we believe and that’s not always the case. Remember balance is key (duality).
Core engagement is another interesting and controversial topic. In the Yoga world, it’s not uncommon to draw in the mid section (vaccum) inhale and suck in the navel. Controlled breathing, where this becomes the main event. It is great for segmental awareness and developing the core musculature (function):
- Transverse Ab (Internal Wall)
- Internal Obliques (Pelvis, Hip Stabilizers)
- Pelvic Floor (Deep Tissues in Pelvic Region)
- Diaphragm (The Natural Breathing Muscle)
There’s another form of “core” engagement called the abdominal brace. Which, in a nutshell is compressing the midsection and holding the “ribs over plevis” postion hard (as if to brace for a strike). Combat athletes and martial artists no how to do this very well. It’s the practice of getting tight but also being functional. A state of relaxed tension, I often say.
According to Dr. Micheal Clarke of the NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) both are beneficial but he suggests folks learn the draw in prior to the brace. Likely because of the deep breathing benefits and the rest and digest nervous system response.
I’ve taken a shine to combining elements of both practices. It is not uncommon in a group session a drill to have several elements of explosivness, high tension and static hold. For example:
- 20 Two Hand Kettlebell Swings
- 5 Single Arm Overhead Press (ea)
- 30 sec Push Up hold or (Chaturanga)
I see tremendous benefits jacking the heart rate up with relatively complex movements at the beginning of a drill, then maintaining or testing composure near the end with an isometric position. Mainly for the mental aspect (but also safety) it’s a great way to do more work, without getting greedy or irresponsible. A conclusion I arrived at independantly BTW.
I could go on about the functional anatomy aspect and how the combination of Yoga practice and kettlebell training would fill in the gaps flawless. But I won’t, in short.. just know – the development of the prime movers via compound kettlebell lifts and authentic human movements under load while continuing to build the fixator and synergist muscles via Yoga practice will ultimately lead to increased health and athleticism.
There you have it.. plenty of reasons to join the two. So a quick word of advice for some overly tight, kettlebellers – try to implement some yoga practice to compliment your training. Yoga can and will improve t- spine mobiltiy, shoulder health, hips knees and ankles and improve your stability greatly througth poses (pause or isometric work). Contrarily for the Yogies of the world, I would sincerely recommend some good old fashion, loaded compound lifts via kettlebell training. I’m taking about front squats, overhead presses, bent over rows ect. As a result your joints and muscles will feel tremendous and crave those zen like Yoga poses even more.
EARN YOUR STRENGTH