The Importance of Recovery
This could really be a whole book, and I’m sure there are many, but I’ll try to sum up the how and why it is so important for our bodies to recover in a simple manner. Too much Yang and we could drive our bodies into over training and fatigue, Too much Yin and we simply aren’t working hard enough to see results. As yogis we aren’t necessarily looking for “results” like an endurance sports athlete, however too much Yin and you may not be taking your practice where you want it to go. The key is finding that balance which can be the big challenge, but as you will find, recovery time is where the benefit is gained. Read on to find out more about The Importance of Recovery.
For many of us training is the easy part. The challenge becomes the discipline it takes to make time for recovery.
Fatigue is cumulative. While you may not think you are tired, your body knows and will eventually let your mind know too, usually through injury.
We may all know that tissues and cells are repaired during rest time, but what will probably interest the athlete most is that this is where the gains are made. Strength is built during recovery. When you take a day or two off your body has a chance to restore and renew. You go back to class feeling re-energized and stronger.
Symptoms of Over Training
- Loss of ability to focus
- Not sleeping well
- Muscle soreness that doesn’t go away after 1 or 2 days
- Loss of menstrual cycle
- Digestive issues
The Danger Zone
After a really tough workout the body’s immune system is compromised for 48 hours afterwards. For those of us who work out hard most day this means our body’s could always on the verge of illness, fatigue or injury. This is where rest and proper nutrition are crucial.
In talking with a personal trainer friend of mine who also is a body builder and physique competitor Vivian says:
“Hard workouts tax the immune system. That’s why sleep, rest and proper nutrition are vital. When I was competing, and maintained a rigorous training regime, if I didn’t get adequate rest I would get sick! My coach emphasized getting 8 hours of sleep and taking 2 rest days per week to make sure that my immune system stayed healthy. It’s all about balance. If you train hard, rest is equally as important as your workouts!”
What can be done?
Treat your recovery as part of your practice or training.
There are lots of ways to approach recovery. What type of recovery will depend on how hard you are working.
For example if you are an endurance athlete training for a marathon, triathlon, or something like an Iron Man you should definitely be taking 1 full day off per week. I mean truly off, not going on a long walk, not going to yoga, but truly resting. OK, OK you can do Restorative Yoga or Yoga Nidra, but that’s it!
The 6 day a week hard core Ashtangi already knows when their rest days are – usually Saturdays plus new moon, full moon and for women the Lady’s Holiday.
Weekday Warrior – Hitting up rigorous Vinyasa classes 5 days a weeK? Try adding in 1 Yin Yoga class per week as well as 1 Restorative class weekly or at least every other week.
If you’re simply doing a few Vinyasa classes per week, chances are you’re not over training, but of course it never hurts to add in the Yin, Restorative or Yoga Nidra.
You may also decide to add in a couple more classes or cross train if you enjoy running, biking, hiking or even other types of classes like boot camp or Pilates.
You can see a big change in your practice (or any workout) when you go from 1-2 days per week to 3 or 4 days, then you’ll see another shift when you go from 3/4 days to 5/6 days. There’s no need for 7. Everyone needs a rest day. Hello Sunday Funday! Now that I’m no longer working in retail I can appreciate the true meaning of this.
Get a Massage
Get a massage at least once a month. Massage should not be viewed as a luxury, but as a cross training tool. If you think you can’t work it into your budget check out places like Massage Envy where you can get a $59 per month membership. If you’re a yoga teacher barter a free session with a massage therapist.
Using a foam roller will help bring more oxygen and blood flow to your muscles. This self-massage tool is a must have at home for any athlete!
I suggest a few times a week, but at least once.
These days the Yoga Tune Up balls have also become very popular for myofascial release.
Ever tried Floating?
I like to do different things and don’t just adhere to a strictly yoga schedule.
At one point I was taking 8 classes per week with quite a variety –
4 dynamic Vinyasa, 2 Pilates (1 on equipment, 1 mat class), 1 Kettlebells and 1 Yin class per week; with running and biking it was the perfect combo for me.
These days I’m doing a lot of yoga classes as usual, but have also added in 2 days a week of boot camp. Since I’m not currently running, I felt I needed something more. I still do very long walks on the weekends though (8-14 miles). Even though they can be tough on my feet, legs and hips I find them to be mentally rewarding and it’s a great way to check out my new city! I call them “Urban Adventures” as they are almost always paired with perusing a different neighborhood, finding a new restaurant or hitting up the best cocktail bars.
One of the reasons I was inspired to write this is because I myself know I need to add in more recovery time. My intention is to set 1 day a week as the day I do my foam rolling, myofascial release, Restorative and Yoga Nidra …after boot camp, of course!