Yoga for Athletes to Improve Flexibility and Performance
Contrary to the common assumption, yoga isn’t just for yogis. It’s beneficial for athletes too. In fact, yoga can help you become better in the sport you specialize in, be it endurance activity, strength training, or CrossFit. Yoga for athletes is good because it helps them explore the full range of motion for their joints. Not only that, but it also improves recovery and posture and prevents injuries. Yoga also helps athletes breathe better, giving them positive physical and physiological effects. In this article, you’ll learn about the significance of this practice for athletes and the best yoga poses.
What are the Key Benefits of Yoga for Athletes
Yoga enhances core strength and balance and strengthens the weak parts of the body. Thus, it lets you effectively overcome imbalances in your body.
Yoga increases mobility
Athletic activities involve repetitive movements. It makes some muscles get stronger while others don’t get the needed attention. It, in turn, limits mobility, increasing the risk of injury.
Not only has that, but unbalanced athletic training also caused stronger muscles to take over the function of weaker muscles. Athletes that do yoga can engage all their muscle groups in alternating patterns. No muscle is left behind, which resultantly increases flexibility, stability, and posture.
Did you know?
Pro athletes such as Lebrun James and Tom Brady complement their athletic training with yoga.
Yoga fixes bad posture and increases core strength.
A consistent practice of yoga for athletes alternates spine motions. You rotate your spine backward and forward, strengthening and stretching the whole body.
In contrast, many athletic activities only focus on muscles in the front of the body, such as the abs, biceps, and quads. The posterior chain hardly gets any focus, which results in bad posture and decreases core strength.
Yoga mobilizes every muscle in the back, be it big or small. These muscles play a big role in holding you correctly. So, when they get strong, you naturally improve your core strength.
Yoga Improves Balance
Balance and coordination are crucial for boosting performance and reducing injury risk. Balance comes when posture is improved. Posture and core strength training lies at the heart of yoga for athletes. With a strong core comes the stability required to move body parts effectively.
Most yoga poses engage and strengthen the core through various asanas. Thus, you become more balanced while performing movements and reduce the risk of sports injuries.
Yoga improves the mental health of athletes.
Besides asana, mindfulness and breath work are other integral components of yogic practice. These things not only help you feel better in the moment but also over time. It minimizes the levels of stress hormones and reduces negative thought patterns. Improved mental health is thus one of the chief benefits of yoga in sports for athletes.
The deep breathing practice while moving through the yogic poses sends more oxygen into the brain. It also signals the autonomic nervous system to relax and release tension.
Did you know?
Yoga helps athletes deal with anxiety and stress, especially those who perform in high-pressure environments whose stakes involve reputation and money.
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Which Yoga Poses Can Improve Athletic Performance?
Many yoga poses improve athletic performance. The key poses athletes can do during their non-training days include the following.
1. Downward dog
It is a classic yoga pose that stretches the hamstrings and back. Begin by starting on all fours and walk your hands about six inches in the front. Tuck the toes and lift the hips. Spread the fingers and press your body weight into the hands. This pose is ideal for basketball, football, and tennis players with tight hamstrings.
2. Forward fold
Another classic movement of yoga in sports is the forward fold. Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Lift the arms up while breathing in. Breathe out and spread your arms wide. During this time, bend forward. Allow your arms to dangle. Do not lean forward or back. Let the spine stay relaxed. Take five deep breaths and feel the posterior lower body lengthening.
3. Cobra pose
Begin from a plank position and slowly lower yourself down on the mat. Your belly and toenails should contact the floor. Inhale and lift your head and chest. Breathe out and lower down on the mat. Repeat this movement for five deep breaths.
4. Low lunge
Many athletes that do yoga swear by this yogic pose for flexibility. Begin from the downward dog position and step the right foot forward. Let it come between your hands. Touch your left knee to the surface or floor.
Your front knee must be above the ankle, and the weight of the pelvis must be forward. Inhale and lift your arms up. Feel the stretch in your left quadriceps and the pelvis’s front. Repeat this motion for five deep breaths.
5. Seated twist and bend
This yogic pose is also great to improve athletic performance for those who lift heavy. Sit cross-legged with the back erect. Lift your arms up while breathing in. Breathe out and twist your chest to the right. Lower the arms. The right hand should be behind you, and the left arm should be outside the right knee.
Using the left hand, push against the right knee. It will deepen the twist to the right. Straighten your back while breathing in. Breathe out and twist five times. This move will release the tension in your sides.
This pose is ideal for preventing injury. You should definitely do it during your recovery days. Begin on your hands with a neutral spine. Lift the butt up and press the chest forward. Let the stomach sync. This is the cow pose.
To go into the cat pose, exhale and round the spine. Tuck your tailbone, release your head to the floor and relax your neck.
Boost Athletic Performance with Regular Yoga
Yoga for athletes has wide-ranging benefits. From better physical and mental health to increased athletic performance, it has various advantages. Explore the best poses and find the ones that help you recover in the best manner.