How Yoga Improves Powerlifting

Powerlifting asks competitors (or hobbyists) to max out their weights on three lifts: deadlift, squat, and the bench press. Pushing yourself to your max weight can be taxing and requires your body as a whole to work in harmony. Your muscles need to work together to power through the lift.

Yoga can help powerlifters with increased flexibility. Boosting your flexibility leads to a smaller risk of injuries, as your body will strain less with the movements themselves. The improved mobility also leads to better form and an increased capacity to lift more weight.

Yoga also leads to better breath control, which allows more oxygen to reach your muscles. Deep breathing is necessary for good powerlifting, making yoga an important tool to perfect your breathing techniques. It can also strengthen your core strength, which helps build your body’s overall strength.

Pigeon Pose

Pigeon pose is a forward bend focusing on hip opening. It stretches your thighs, groin, back, psoas, and piriformis muscles.

  1. In downward dog, bring your right knee forward and cross it under yourself, placing your right knee by your right hand and allowing your right foot to fall by your left hip.
  2. Drop your left knee down to the mat, dropping your left leg flat to the mat. Your foot should be pointing straight back. Keep your hips square.
  3. Bring your shoulders forward into a bend, reaching your forehead to the floor.
  4. Stay here for a few breaths before rolling back up out of your forward bend.
  5. Step back up into downward dog and repeat on your other side.

Crescent Lunge

This lunge stretches the legs, groin, and hips and opens the torso, chest, and shoulders.

  1. In downward dog, bring your right foot forward between your hands. Bend your knee to 90 degrees. Both feet should face forward.
  2. Lift your back heel to come onto the ball of your foot, lifting your back leg to straighten it.
  3. Square your hips by pressing your right hip towards the mat.
  4. Inhale and stretch your torso upwards, lifting your hands overhead. Your palms should face each other as your hands stay shoulder width apart. Shift your eyes up to look between your palms.
  5. Stretch your crown up, pressing your shoulder blades together and engaging your core muscles.
  6. Hold up to one minute, starting at a comfortable 20-30 seconds and working your way up to a full minute.
  7. Release by placing your hands back onto the mat and stepping back into downward dog. Repeat on your other side.

Wide-Legged Forward Fold

This pose stretches the inner and back of your legs, hips, and spine.

  1. Stand straight on your mat, facing the long edge. Step your feet apart 3-4.5 feet apart, stepping wider the taller you are. Your feet should be parallel to each other, facing forward.
  2. Inhale and lift your torso, stretching your spine and chest upward. Place your hands lightly on your hips.
  3. Exhale and fold forward, keeping your spine straight but relaxing, bending at the hip joints. Press your fingers to the floor with your back perpendicular to your legs. Inhale and stretch your back by putting a slight curve in it to look up.
  4. Exhale and bend your elbows to lower your torso into a forward fold. Keep your spine long and stretch down.
  5. Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds then slowly bring your torso back up. Return your legs to a neutral position.

Cow Face Pose

This pose stretches the hips, thighs, ankles, shoulders, armpits, triceps, and chest. If you can’t reach your hands together, you can use a strap to hold in between your hands. The strap should be used to gently pull your hands towards each other, slowly pulling upwards with your top arm.

  1. Sit tall with your legs straight in front of you with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
  2. Slide your left foot under your right knee to the outside of your right hip. Cross your right foot over your left knee, bringing your right foot to the outside of your left hip. Sit evenly with your hips square and your feet an equal distance away from your hips on each side.
  3. Inhale, stretching your right arm out, parallel to the floor. Rotate your arm and shoulder forward so that your thumb points to the floor and then to the wall behind you.
  4. Exhale and sweep your arm back, so that your forearm is behind the hollow of your back, parallel to the floor. Work the forearm so that it is parallel to the spine and your hand is between your shoulder blades. Keep your elbow next to your right side.
  5. Inhale and stretch your left arm forward and out, pointing towards the wall in front of you. Rotate so that your palm is face up, then move your arm up towards the sky, straight up. Lift your arm on an exhalation and bend your elbow to reach back for your right hand. Hook your hands together if you can.
  6. Lift your chest and stretch by dropping your right elbow towards the floor. Keep your left elbow by your head.
  7. Hold for 30-60 seconds, then release slowly. Reverse which leg is on top and repeat on the other side. 
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