Written by Aleah Christine
Yoga for increased athletic performance
Yoga may have originated as a spiritual practice but its physical benefits are undeniable. Professional athletes have been stepping on yoga mats for quite some time. We’ve discussed the benefits of yoga for recovering from injuries or intense training periods, but it can also be practiced as a preventive measure. Athletes can see significant improvements in their performance and endurance during an hour or so of moving meditation.
Yoga refines form and technique
Mindfulness is key in any style of yoga and it’s something that translates to movement. As you practice with a teacher, you’ll receive cues on micro-adjustments in order to refine your posture. This awareness of form and technique is critical in any sport, as it contributes to efficiency, injury prevention, and longevity. For example, runners who slouch might suffer from back pain more frequently than runners who remember to keep their chest open and shoulders relaxed. Since developing body awareness is a focus in yoga, it can apply to virtually any kind of movement including sports or daily life.
Yoga improves mobility
Yoga instructor Shona Vertue points out that increased mobility is one of the main benefits of the practice. One of her students is David Beckham who, like many men, isn’t naturally flexible. According to Vertue, athletes should worry about having mobile joints as it ‘refers to your ability to move but also your ability to be stable in those movements.’ Athletes have to be able to apply their looser joints to sports movements. More mobile hips might mean being able to kick a soccer ball more efficiently or generating more power for a golf swing.
Yoga increases strength and stamina
Yoga is also a great way to stay in shape. Cross training is essential to any athlete’s routine. For example, endurance athletes might need to condition their core, upper, or lower body, which they can do with yoga. Likewise, it can also be beneficial to their stamina. The New York Times reported that scientists found that a fast-paced yoga routine can alternate as intense interval training. It can raise your heart rate, keep your lungs healthy, and burn more calories. It is recommended that you focus on flow or heated classes in order to increase cardiovascular endurance.
Andy Galpin a professor at the Center for Sport Performance at Cal State, noted how yoga improves muscular endurance, and that’s why athletes like LeBron James incorporate it into their regimen. James’ stamina allows him to play an average of 43 minutes per game, which is truly impressive. He is arguably the most recognizable basketball player on the planet, and part of his success is due to his dedicated training regimen that includes yoga as a stamina-builder.
Yoga trains proper breathing
Yoga expert Dana Santas wrote on CNN that poor breathing techniques constrict movement as well as increase the risk of injury to the back, neck, and shoulders. She recommends diaphragmatic breathing or deep breathing. Find a comfortable position and feel as the air enters and exits the lungs. Through this practice you’ll be able to deliver oxygen to your muscles more efficiently.
The benefits of yoga on athletic performance and endurance can be invaluable with regular practice. Try out a yoga class today and see how you feel on and off the mat.
Written by Aleah Christine
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