7 Reasons Athletes Practice Yoga to Improve their Games
September 2, 2016
Athletes inherently look for ways to improve their game and set themselves apart from their competition. Some, in their pursuit of excellence, turn to drugs or supplements, but what many athletes are discovering now is that yoga is a healthier and even more beneficial solution. With a strict regime, athletes who practice yoga can improve their game in these seven ways.
Yoga Increases Flexibility
Be it in its nature, yoga works to elongate the body and promote flexibility by breaking down your fibers and initiating growth. In other words, much like when you go to the gym and return a week later to find yourself stronger, when you continuously practice yoga you will reach farther, twist more and stretch longer.
Athletes who practice yoga find themselves molding their bodies into unfamiliar positions. Through repetition, their bodies learn to adapt to withstand new contortions. Because of this, most athletes that practice yoga have looser bodies and endure less injuries.
Yoga Improves Your Breathing
If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, then you know how important breathing is for success. Most classes require students to breathe in and out through the nose in one fluid motion. This technique, often referred as the Diaphragmatic technique, helps to regulate body heat and increase lung strength.
When athletes who practice yoga return to their respective court, field or pitch, they can control their breathing more readily and thus cruise past their competition when it comes to sprints and endurance training.
Yoga Makes You Stronger
Granted you aren’t going to bench a million pounds or power squat a tree, but when you practice yoga you will become stronger. A typical yoga routine requires long, solid poses. Often, these poses require incredible balance and strength.
Yoga is a full body exercise and focuses on activating each and every muscle in your body. For example, the eagle pose – a one legged, cross armed squat – calls for inner thigh and lower back muscle activation. Through yoga, athletes can balance their bodies and strengthen the little muscles which will improve their game tenfold.
Yoga Requires Focus
While yoga is a form of exercising, it primarily serves as a form of meditation and requires complete focus. From a fluid breathing pattern to unmoving postures, yoga demands undisturbed focus.
Athletes who practice yoga learn to center their focus faster and more precisely. This skill easily translates to sport as an increased focus means a more accurate shot, pass or slide.
Yoga Prevents Injuries
As already mentioned, yoga increases flexibility, which in turn minimizes the risk of injury. However, yoga also teaches you to respect your own body, recognize its limits and adjust your exercises to prevent injury.
Most athletes risk everything in order to step on the field, including their body. Through practicing yoga, athletes can better learn to understand how their body feels in certain situations. Therefore, they can more easily recognize the onset of injury and prevent further damage as a result.
Yoga Stables Your Mind
Through focus, regulated breathing and a calm environment, yoga relaxes your mind.
Most athletes know how big of a role the mind plays in one’s performance. When you think too much about catching that pass, draining that shot or hitting the net, sometimes you lose focus entirely, or worse, overthink. Practicing yoga offers a productive distraction for the brain and teaches you to let go in order to improve.
Yoga Is a Workout
Probably not the most obvious reason, but yes, yoga is a workout and a really hard one at that. You will feel sore and exhausted afterwards, but replenished in a whole new way. If you want even more of a challenge, try practicing hot yoga – you will never think of yoga in the same way again.