Ian Young, the 50 year-old owner of a mechanical services company, began yoga to aid his swimming training, two years later he was so hooked he was enrolled on Sweat's Teacher Training Programme. Now a trained instructor, Ian continues to combine his two passions, swimming and yoga.

Yoga and swimming case study

Although Ian is currently in excellent physical condition, he freely admits it wasn’t always this way. “I was stressed, quite overweight and I was leading a very inactive lifestyle.” Like so many men when they reach their forties, Ian also started to develop pain and discomfort in his knees. “My knees became so inflamed I could hardly move, I couldn’t walk more than a few hundred yards before my knees gave out.”

Achieving a healthier lifestyle

Doctors and physiotherapists suggested to Ian that he might want to consider knee surgery to deal with the issue, but this was a route he was keen to avoid if at all possible. In looking to create a healthier lifestyle, Ian knew he had to start being more active, and take regular exercise. Many sports and activities such as jogging were ruled out as they would place stress on Ian’s still fragile knees, but eventually Ian turned to his local pool. “Swimming provides all over exercise and helps build bone density without needing to bear weight or put any stress on your joints.”

By 2012, Ian was swimming 4-5 times a week, building up to overall weekly swim distances of 25 km. However, by placing ever greater demands on his body, Ian ran the risk of suffering a sports-related injury. With this in mind, Ian started to consider yoga. “I had heard other swimmers talking about the benefits of yoga, and my physiotherapist mentioned that he regularly went to hot yoga classes.”

Using yoga to stay injury-free

Ian admits he came to his first yoga class with a little reluctance, “I really didn’t know what to expect. I was worried the class might have a spiritual hippy vibe; I was relieved to see that wasn’t the case at all as soon as I entered the studio.” As with many first-timers, it was the heat and intensity of the hot yoga class that was the biggest surprise. “I really didn’t expect it to be that hot in there or be such an intense workout either. The cardio-vascular activity and strength needed left me dripping with sweat from head to foot.”

Although he had found his first class quite a challenge, Ian realised that yoga could be a great benefit to him. “The yoga class really resonated with me. The exercises made me aware of muscles I didn’t know I even had, I knew it would be a fantastic way to build flexibility, strength and help any muscle or joint injuries to heal properly.”

Health and wellness benefits of yoga

As Ian continued yoga classes over the following weeks and months, he soon started noticing real improvements in his fitness and wellbeing. “The classes can be really challenging, but afterwards I feel so good and energised. I’ve also experienced greater mental clarity. A yoga class gives you the time and space to check in with yourself, focus on your body and your breathing. It’s like pressing a reset button; taking a much needed break from the big hamster wheel of life.”

And what of that crippling knee pain which had plagued Ian some years ago? “I never suffer knee pain these days and yoga has definitely helped there. Combined with a good diet, lower stress and swimming, I think yoga has been the missing piece of the jigsaw!”

Becoming a yoga teacher

Ian was so passionate about yoga for both healing his injury and helping his swimming performance that he decided to enrol on Sweat Studios’ 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training programme and he graduated in July 2017. He now continues to combine his two loves of yoga and swimming. “Yoga has given me a greater body awareness, I am much more in tune with my body in the water. This has really improved my technique. By achieving better alignment in the water, I’m swimming more effectively, efficiently and minimising the possibility of injury.”

Ian’s advice to men considering yoga

Finally, Ian has some words of advice for other men looking to get fit. “In my experience, many men gravitate towards gym-based activities, focussed on lifting weights and building up their arms and chests. Adding in yoga will help balance your body out.”

Why not heed Ian’s advice and give us a go? Yoga at Sweat Studios is great all-round exercise, perfect for keeping you in tip to health and suitable for everybody. Here’s everything you need to know as a yoga beginner.

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