Yoga for Athletes: Benefits and Poses

Yoga for AthletesYoga originated in ancient India. It is the practice of physical, spiritual and mental exercises all aimed at giving you peace of mind, in addition to realizing your true self. In order for athletes to stay at the top of their game, they need endurance, stamina, mental and physical stability. Of course, they can train at the gym for several hours a day, but there are other options too such as yoga for athletes.

This is an alternative method to improving peak performance in addition to alleviating soreness and reducing recovery time. If you want an expert resource, check out this Udemy course, Transformational Yoga. Read on for other benefits of yoga as well as some poses to try.

Cultivate Balance

As an athlete, you need augmented control over how you move your body. Competition is everywhere and the last thing you want is to make a mistake because you lost your coordination. Whether you are a swimmer, golfer, runner or football player; balance is key. With consistent yoga practice, you will notice your balance and coordination benefit significantly.

Develop Flexibility

By fostering a greater range of motion, you might be able to dunk that basketball better or improve your run time. Yoga is also used to elevate joint and muscular flexibility. Any athlete with supple shoulder and hip joints stands to execute better performance than someone with a limited range of motion. Not to mention, a greater range of motion also helps to improve muscle conditioning. Furthermore, flexibility decreases with age so, yoga can help to prevent that, as well.

Promote Mental Health

Some coaches say that the win starts in your head. More than likely, it does. When you are stressed out or have a lot on your mind, it can be difficult to focus. Picture game day. The stands are filled with fans, and your team is counting on you to be present while giving your best. You do not want to let anyone down, do you? With yoga, you can learn how to quiet your mind and achieve mental stability. Yoga for athletes helps to quiet the chatter in order to enhance serenity.

Excellent for Cross Training

Yoga is a low-impact method for cross training. All athletes need to work all of their muscles since they are all connected to one another. New exercises can help to alleviate boredom on top of serving to reduce injury.

Triangle Pose

The triangle pose helps to improve digestion while relieving stress. It strengthens your hips, shoulders, groin and chest. Stand with your feet about 4 feet apart. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, and align your right knee cap with the center of your right ankle. Raise your right arm above your head, and bend towards the left. Hold for five short breaths. Relax your arms, and then repeat with your left arm in the opposite direction.

Low-Lunge Crescent Pose

Perform a lunge on your right or left leg. Use a mat if it makes this pose more comfortable for you. Keep one knee directly above your heel and the other straight behind you. You should feel a stretch through your thigh and groin. Inhale and lift both arms until they are up to the side, and then release. Hold for one minute, and then repeat on the other leg.

Downward Dog

The downward dog pose stretches your hamstrings, calves and shoulders in addition to aiding with fatigue. Get onto your hands and knees. Inhale, then lift your knees off of the floor while pushing your hips toward the ceiling. Push your heels onto the floor and bend your knees, slightly. Press your hands into the mat. Hold this pose for five breaths then release.

Hindu Squats

This exercise helps to promote strength and mobility. It also improves ankle and foot health. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart at a 45-degree angle. Press your hands together, in front of your chest. Bend your knees into a squat. Your rear should reach your ankles with your elbows pressing on your knees. Repeat this pose 10 times.

Cat Pose

This stretch assists in stretching the back and torso as well as relieving tension in the spine. Get on your hands and knees while pressing your hands into your mat. Start arching your back by rolling your spine forward. Allow your stomach to sink downwards. Once you have arched your back as much as possible, release and repeat at least 10 times. Take deep breaths with each stretch.

Cobra

The cobra is a popular yoga pose because anyone can do it, and you feel reinvigorated immediately afterward. Lie on your stomach with your legs straight behind you and the tops of your feet pressed into the floor. Press your hands into your mat, spreading your fingers. Inhale, then push through your hands, straightening your arms and lifting your chest off the floor. Make sure your thighs and feet stay pressed onto the mat. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, and then release.

Chair Pose

This stretch emulates sitting on a chair while raising your arms in the air. It helps to strengthen your calves, thighs and ankles. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Inhale and raise your arms straight up. Exhale and bend your knees as if you are about to sit on a chair. Hold for five breaths and then release.

Big Toe Pose

Lay flat on your back with your arms by your side. Exhale and bend one of your knees, pulling your thigh to your chest. Next, you want to hold your big toe with the arm on the same side. Keep your opposite leg and arm pressed into the floor. Repeat on the other side. The big toe pose focuses on the hips, groin, hamstrings and thighs.

For centuries, people have been practicing yoga for its physical, emotional and mental health benefits. Famous athletes such as LeBron James and Patrick Peterson both practice yoga. In addition, the super bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks made yoga a mandatory practice during their championship year.  Consult with your health care provider before transitioning to a new exercise regimen. To learn more about yoga mats, read this Udemy article, The Best Yoga Mat: 5 Mats for Every Yogi. Moreover, keep yourself in top shape with these Udemy courses, Yoga for Stress  and Yoga Poses Decoded.