Cooling down is a key part of a successful yoga practice. As with all forms of working out, cooling down ease the muscles out of the strenuous activity they have been doing. Unfortunately, some people skimp on their cool down, or don’t do it the right away.
What is meant by cooling down?
Cooling down is the period of time immediately after a vigorous exercise session, such as after yoga, when the warm muscles are allow to cool down and return to normal. It is essential for avoiding exercise-related injury.
Imagine a car driving along at 60 miles an hour, and someone suddenly slamming on the brakes. This could cause serious injury to the person driving. It’s far better to decelerate slowly, in a controlled manner, before bringing the car to a safe stop.
Similarly, stopping your workout abruptly is like slamming on the brakes in relation to your muscles. A cool down is like decelerating your muscles and making the most of your workout.
What is the best way to cool down?
Stretching is one of the best ways to cool down. There is static stretching, and dynamic stretching. Research has shown that dynamic stretching appears to be the better choice for warming up, and static stretching for the cool down. The stretching and holding position lengthens the muscle fibers.
The other important way to cool down is to not allow your muscles to get too cold too fast in terms of temperature. A lot of people wear sleeveless tops and shorts to do yoga. Most yoga sessions will end with Corpse pose, a deep relaxation session on the back. However, depending on the temperature of the room, the muscles might get so cold so quickly that they start to spasm. Therefore, covering yourself with a track suit or a yoga blanket while doing deep relaxation can help avoid injury.
Meditation sessions and chanting, depending on the kind of yoga you are doing, can also help cool things down without causing injury.
How long should a cool down session be?
The more intense the activity, the longer you should spend cooling down. For yoga, you will usually only need a few minutes, as compared with running, for instance, when a 20 to 30 minute cool down can help give your muscles enough time to adjust after the really intense activity they have just undergone.
If you’re practicing yoga at home, don’t rush your cool down, and don’t skimp on clothes or a blanket to prevent yourself from getting too chilled, so you can stay injury free.