7 Reasons Why Athletes Should Do Yoga

yoga for athletes

You need to do yoga to be strong, fast, and physical. It will help you stay loose and get the most out of your body.”

TAKEO spikes, former nFl linebacker

1. More Power

When our body is properly aligned, we can transmit force more efficiently and perform faster and stronger in our sport. Yoga improves alignment, range of motion (ROM) and muscle fibre recruitment. This strengthens the kinetic chain of movement, maximising power, strength and speed while minimising risk of injury. A flowing yoga practice can promote fluidity of movement patterns and assist with stretching beyond your normal ROM. This helps to elongate the muscles and build muscular endurance and stamina.

2. Better Balance

Yoga stretches and strengthens muscles that are essential for balance. Some yoga poses like tree challenge static balance, the ability to stand in one spot without swaying. Others like revolved crescent lunge or moving between techniques challenge dynamic balance, the ability to anticipate and react to changes as you move. Better balance improves agility, reduces reaction times, enhances body control, boosts concentration and minimises injury risk.

3. Improve Focus

Yoga can improve your mental strength by reducing stress and stabilising emotions. Practicing a series of techniques that are linked together by deep breathing as part of a yoga sequence, reduces cortisol levels and helps an athlete feel more relaxed. It also strengthens networks in the brain that controls mental efficiency, improves concentration, focus and alertness. A calmer and more alert mind helps you to eliminate distractions so that you can stay in the present moment and focus on the task at hand.

4. Aid Muscle Recovery

The goal of recovery following exercise is to clear the waste products away from the muscles so that they can fire again. The deep breathing practices of yoga helps bring more oxygen to the muscle and while the light movements of a gentle yoga session helps to get blood flowing. Both increased blood flow and more oxygen makes its easier for the body to get nutrients to the muscle cells, thereby speeding up the repair of muscle damage. Research has found that people who supplement their training with yoga experience less muscle soreness. The quicker your muscles bounce back, the sooner your body is ready for your next training session or game.

5. Reduce Injury Risk

Yoga works to strengthen, stretch and balance the various parts of the body, which can assist in reducing injuries caused by muscle imbalances, inflexible, tight highly-trained muscles and quick and twisting motions that stress joints. It also works to lengthen muscles which helps to restore and preserve the flexibility that can be lost by strengthen-building exercises. Yoga can help you eliminate those nagging aches and pains, and bring your body back into balance. A regular yoga practice also promotes body awareness giving you a better understanding of what is going on in your body when performing movement so that you can make alterations to improve form and reduce injury risk.

6. Improve Sleep

Sleep is important for an athlete’s recovery as it assists with the repair and recovery of the body and mind. Research has found that sleep deprivation leads to poor performance, reduced motivated and arousal levels and reduced cognitive processes leading to poor attention and concentration and heightened levels of perceived exertion and pain perception. Yoga can help athletes to switch off and relax. When your mind is free from stress and tension and your body is relaxed, sleep tends to be more peaceful and less interrupted.

7. Correct Muscle Imbalances

Athlete usually find it pretty easy to complete training programs that strengthen areas most important to their sports, which can lead them to neglect other areas in their body, creating muscle weakness and imbalance. Overtime this can lead to discomfort and place their body at more risk of injury. Yoga is a complete body exercise which teaches techniques that focus on all areas of the body and assists with identifying muscle imbalances. It works to adjust posture, strengthen weak muscles and releasing muscles that are overworked. Sport-specific yoga has the ability to correct compensatory patterns and reduce pain.

Trial this sport-specific yoga session to loosen stiff hips.