Bikram yoga and powerlifting are seen by many as being on opposite ends of the spectrum. While they may appear to be very different Bikram yoga can greatly improve your lifts.
Powerlifting involves compound and explosive movements. We’ll use the dead lift as an example. In order to lift weight off the ground, whether it is 5 lbs or 500 lbs, all muscles in your body must be activated to perform the lift properly. Engaging your glutes, hamstrings and lats while using your breath to brace your core creating an internal belt around your midsection, provides the proper support needed to prevent injury and give you the strength to pick something up off the ground. With proper support and form, the lift can successful be executed. This is true for the other lifts as well.
So how does Bikram yoga help in improving your dead lift, squat and bench? In order to properly go in and out of these movements, you must have mobility, stability, and strength. All three complete the puzzle, if you don’t have one, injury is inevitable. Mobility is necessary in the ankles, hips, thoracic spine and shoulder musculature. Many powerlifters forget that flexibly in these areas is crucial to properly execute a lift. For example, if you don’t have proper mobility in the thoracic spine, something has to move and that movement usually then trickles down to the lower back where we need stability. Low back pain will stem from this mechanical deficiency. Stability then is not only needed in the lumbar region of the back, but also in the knees and core to properly brace the body. Strength goes without saying, if you don’t have it, nothing can be lifted, squatted or pressed.
A heated atmosphere creates a more pliable body; specific movements allow joints to improve their range of motion. It calls upon the knees, core, and lower back to keep the body upright while moving in and out of balance postures. The spine along with all the major muscle groups in the body are strengthened top to bottom in this well thought out and very specific sequence of 26 postures.
To create the power and explosiveness needed for lifting, fast twitch muscles are activated. These fast twitch muscles are what helps you develop your power and speed. Yoga, on the other hand, activates your slow twitch muscles as you hold postures and move slowly in and out of them. So if anything else, marrying Bikram yoga and powerlifting, will help create balance within the body resulting in a calmer, more present, stress free, and stronger self both mentally and physically.