Among the most stressful professions in the world is that of athletes. The constant pressure to maintain and enhance the performance streak is immense.
Athletes spend the majority of their time in improving their performance. This enables them to hit new records every day. Yes, it indeed helps them improve but there is a solid pressure on them to maintain it.
Amidst the performance pressure comes the pitfalls. This profession comes with risks as it takes a nanosecond to change the course of nature.
This means they are susceptible to injuries that could eventually turn life-threatening. So, how do they improve their performance and raise the bar while protecting themselves from unforseen injuries?
While there are many activities and regimens that help them maintain their stamina and shape, yoga is the best way to improve their posture, movements, training, etc. while steering clear of injuries.
Why Yoga for Athletes?
While one may perceive it as the ultimate stamina and posture builder, there are many other ways that yoga benefits an athlete. The physical benefits are just the beginning. Take a look at how yoga helps athletes up their game.
- Athletic Training
Crossfit or endurance training might do the deed. However, at times, such activities do not focus on some areas. This means that you might miss out on giving attention to the certain areas of the body that requires strengthening. Although gradually, it leads to an unbalanced form. The entire range of motion is not covered and therefore the required stimulation is not fulfilled.
Yoga keeps the entire muscular system stimulated; given you are doing it right. Engaging all the muscles helps in increasing and improving flexibility in the body. This further takes care of the connective tissues that shield your muscles. A lot of times, strenuous workouts and repetitive wrong motions lead to minor tears that turn to lingering pain and discomfort.
Popular pro athletes like LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Andy Murray, and many more rely on including yoga in their training regime.
- Core Strength
The way yoga poses are organized, they align well with our spine movements. This way, it helps an athlete with strengthening, stretching, and mobilizing the entire body. Yoga focuses on providing the core strength that further helps stabilize the calves, glutes, shoulder and neck muscles, and hamstrings.
Yoga poses for athletes focus on engaging core muscles and strengthening them. This further enables the proper posture and body symmetry. Both of which are valuable to any athlete as it helps in avoiding injuries and boost athletic performance.
- Athletic Recovery
Training is exhausting for the body and minor injuries are bound to happen when done excessively. With yoga, which is well designed, one can heal their muscle pulls, soreness, and stiffness. Instead of further damage, it heals the body and promotes blood flow in the body which fastens the healing process.
Muscle pulls almost feel like an injury and resting immediately is the ideal solution. This situation is known as DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness).Yoga poses enable a good stretch to the sore muscles and recovery, thereby making yoga a reliable training activity for athletes.
- Mental Benefits
As mentioned before, the pressure is immense and this affects their mindset. A stressed mind of an athlete could result in low self-esteem and motivation. This tremendously affects their form on the field. And while they may be on their top shape, the stressful mind could turn the tables for them. In this case, yoga helps release the toxins and stress. The breathing techniques, slow movements, and poses help the athletes unwind and relax. This makes them have a clear mind and a better sleep schedule. All in all, it will help them perform better.
Best Yoga Poses for Athletes
- Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
- Start by taking the prone position or lying on your stomach.
- Slowly put your palms under your shoulders with your elbows aligning them.
- Inhale deeply and slowly lift your upper body with your head facing upwards. A slight stretch should be felt.
- Keep the chest stretched and slightly bend the elbows.
- By now, you should feel a stretch in your core, lower back, and thighs.
- Keep the pose intact for 30 to 40 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise 3 to 5 times or as per your comfort.
- Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
- Start by lying in a supine position (on your back).
- Once comfortable, get further back to adjust your legs up on the wall.
- Make sure that you make a right angle with your hips either against the wall or slightly away from it.
- Your hands, at this point, should be either alongside the body or stretched above your head (whichever pose makes you comfortable).
- This pose is the perfect restorative pose for you to rejuvenate the energy levels in the body. This pose helps in boosting the circulation which further enables relaxation.
- Make sure to hold the pose for 15 to 20 minutes.
- With your hips and knees apart, position yourself on your knees and hands.
- Your hips should be slightly elevated, your spine elongated, and your shoulders stretched.
- The posture should be such that your head should align with your upper arms and your chin should be positioned towards your chest.
- Begin the pose by slightly bending your knees. This will immediately lengthen the spin, giving it a good stretch.
- A great pose like this helps in realigning the spine while healing the stiffness and discomfort.
- Keep the position intact for a minute and repeat as required.
With a multitude of benefits to offer, yoga is an amazing activity for athletes to boost and maintain flexibility, endurance, strength, and balance. All of this while providing recovery to muscles and relaxation to the body and mind. Doing it as a pre-workout warm-up or post-workout restorative regimen, yoga poses retains the dynamic field form. A good yoga session is all you need to give your best on the tracks.