Some styles of yoga are a workout in themselves and may be too much for your body after another workout. You’ll need to get some rest before an intense style like Ashtanga. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t do the more athletic styles of yoga, but save them for a day when yoga will be the only exercise so that you won’t be at risk of overtraining. More therapeutic styles will work well paired with another workout.
Yoga is most beneficial after a workout as a great cool down. The poses will stretch all of the muscles you just used, which can help to reduce soreness and speed healing. Getting oxygen into your muscles is just as important after the workout as before, because this will help your muscles to recover and grow during rest time. The meditation at the end of a yoga session will also help you to relax your mind and return to a resting heart rate. Because yoga focuses and relaxes the mind and body, a class is a great way to end a workout.
While yoga is best after a workout, you can incorporate it into your warm up as well. You won’t want to go to a yoga class before a workout, these classes will leave you relaxed with a resting heart rate after a cool down and meditation session, not pumped up for your next workout. Instead, try to incorporate dynamic poses that you’ve learned in yoga classes into your own warm up. Dynamic stretches (ones where you’re moving) have been shown to be more beneficial than static stretches (ones where you’re holding a stretch) on athletic ability. A study from the American College of Sports Medicine found that while dynamic stretching is generally a good idea for most athletes, static stretching before activity can have negative effects on performance (static stretching has benefits when done after exercise.) Your yoga instructor is there to suggest some dynamic stretches that you can use in your warm up. Remember to actually warm up your muscles before doing any poses, because going straight into a stretch with a cold muscle is like asking for an injury. After a bit of walking, jumping jacks, or other quick activities to get your heart rate up, include a few dynamic yoga poses to loosen your muscles.
See if your gym offers yoga classes; you may be able to end your workout session with a yoga class. This way, you can reap and maximize all of the benefits of yoga and your workout, and be on your way to your fitness goals faster.