Four Benefits of Yoga for the Everyday Athlete
Yoga is over 5,000 years old. For some it seems to be just a silly way to turn one’s body into a human pretzel. Most people don’t realize what this ancient form of physical and mental exercise can do for them…until they finally let go of the ego and JUST get on a mat. Here are four benefits of yoga for the everyday athlete.
Let’s just clarify…thinking you aren’t an athlete? Miss Miriam Webster defines an athlete as: a person who is trained or skilled in physical strength, agility and stamina. I’m pretty sure that life in general requires strength, agility and MAJOR stamina at certain times. What does this mean?
Yoga is for everybody.
Yoga is for YOU, the athlete.
It’s both preventive and therapeutic and offers benefits to both the body and mind. Yoga is distinctly different from other kinds of exercise as it generates motion without causing strain and imbalances in the body making it an ideal complement to other forms of exercise and an extreme advantage to any sport.
As a retired collegiate athlete and fitness professional I understand the value, the drive and the desire to focus on increasing strength and breaking through personal barriers, but without balance this comes at a cost. As humans we have always and will always have the desire to push past barriers. I truly believe it is part of our divine nature. With the amazing age of Crossfit, mixed martial arts, boxing, bootcamp trends and the new found excitement towards training with Olympic fundamental lifts once again there are more opportunities than ever for an individual to find exercise activities that are exciting and constantly changing allowing a person to find something that fits best for them.
These methods yet efficient in creating increased muscular strength and mass can dramatically decrease flexibility and range of motion. Using yoga in combination with these exercises can minimize injuries while actually increasing engagement and success in competitive or recreational sports and fitness activities. Those that are open minded to this science soon realize that yoga can also offer greater self-acceptance, stress management and greater body awareness; an athlete on the inside as well as the outside!
Injury prevention and recovery:
- Increases structural strength and toning of the muscles and joints
- Corrects postural and alignment deviations
- Yoga breath and movement circulates and cleanses the lymph fluid to speed up recovery time by 15% decreasing normal training recovery as well as injury recovery time
- Improved core and stability inhibiting overuse injuries by strengthening what would be considered “under-developed” muscle groups
- Studies show that yoga minimizes the onset of DOMS or delayed onset of muscle soreness
Increased effectiveness in functional training
- Stability and core poses improve coordination and balance enhancing functional movements. Squats, lunges, quick transitional movements, pivoting, rotational movements…think running, hiking, skiing, biking, recreational or competitive sports-everything!
- Improved technique and form help muscles and joints move through a full range of motion.
“The brass ring that every athlete spends a lifetime refining-swim stroke, kick, golf swing, running stride, jump shot, a wrestling move, yoga is that ring.”-Luxmi Shurma
- Through slower, progressive “asanas” or poses in yoga the mind and body learn to have greater concentration and control which in turn elevates ones understanding of their own body parts and how they are feeling giving the athlete the ability to assess their own personal needs.
- Individuals start to notice their own deviations in their lifting or sport form and technique as they focus on creating proper posture and alignment
- Enhances sensory acuity, mental focus and clarity
- Creates a strong mental practice-mental practice in any sport or fitness activity teaches you to have control not just over your physical body but your mental body-imperative to not impeding performance!
One of the fundamentals and foundations of yoga is the willingness to be open to receive The Divine, allowing the inner body to shine brightly. Over the years I’ve participated and worked with many athletes. It is always a phenomenon to me to watch some of my peers over the years; amazing All American, National ranking athletes, physically chiseled hard core bodies and yet poor confidence in themselves. Body image issues, eating disorders and self-loathing can run rampant. A yoga practice can help change this. As one learns to control body and thought they soon realize they can create their world within, their inner body! That is where the true athlete lives…the true potential to make any jump shot, win any opponent, make any shot-put or break any record. It’s the warrior within. Awaken the warrior, the true Self.
Yoga is for life!