7 Benefits of Sports-Specific Yoga for Athletes

“Yoga is somewhat hard to quantify in terms of benefits because you see them in all the injuries you don’t get.”

Kareem Abdul Jabbar, NBA Hall of Famer

1. Improves Body Awareness

Sport-specific yoga helps an athlete develop proprioception, which is the awareness of their body in space. Better proprioception allows for more efficient changes in direction, landing ability, and movement becomes more efficient and powerful.

2. Improves Control of Dynamic Movements

Yoga helps to develop neuromuscular control through specific sequencing techniques that help to prepare the muscles to move and respond to rapid or unexpected directional changes. Integrating breathing and practicing low-level intensity movement patterns helps athletes develop and enhance the brain and body connection.

3. Improves Breath Control

Yoga links body and mind through the breath. An inhalation opens the body, while during exhalation we contract into that space. A deep focus on the breath leads to increased breathing efficiency, improved focus and greater mental clarity. Breathwork also reduces performance anxiety by calming the mind.

4. Assists in Injury Prevention

A sport-specific yoga warm up ensures the body and mind are fully prepared for training, by connecting breath to low level movement that replicates the movement requirements of the training session. Using sport-specific yoga in the cool down assists with recovery by reducing muscle soreness and preparing the body for the next training session or competition.

5. Identifies and Addresses Muscle Imbalances

Athletes can develop muscular imbalances that lead to uneven wear and tear on the body, causing pain and may result in injury. A sport-specific yoga program has the ability to correct compensatory patterns and reduce pain. This is down by strengthening muscles that are weak and releasing tension in those that are overworked.

6. Maximises Recovery

A relaxation yoga session focusing on progressive muscle relaxation can help athletes unwind and reduce stress following a hard day’s training and help them feel better prepared for the next day’s training session or game.

7. Improves Movement Efficiency

Yoga helps to establish fluid and economical movements by addressing functional stability and structural integrity of movement, as well as functional mobility and range of movement of global muscle surrounding the joints.

Take a look at the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs during a yoga session.