(BeWellBuzz) Yoga is often not connected with athletes too well. However, it has been proven that yoga is actually quite effective for athletes wanting to make a mark on their field.
A lot of hit NBA players like Baron Davis and Blake Griffin already practice yoga as part of their routine. The long-distance runner Joan Nesbit Mabe explains the benefits of yoga for an athlete in her own words –
“Yoga helped me set a world age-group record in the indoor mile and an outdoor American record in the 1500m at age 45. Yoga should have been-and will be from here on out-added to the mix of ingredients for success for any serious endurance athlete. Try to incorporate the practice of yoga into your weekly training regimen, and it will make a difference in your life as an endurance athlete.”
Let us find out how regular yoga can prove really helpful for athletes.
- Improve Flexibility – The Main Goal of Most Athletes!
An athlete with little flexibility is no athlete at all! Both beginners and professional athletes require flexibility training exercises, to keep their body flexible and active. Yoga exercises induce flexibility to the human body.
Most of the stretching exercises, which are already part of routine of athletes, are also part of yoga. These yoga exercises prevent athletes from getting injured and make their body structure more flexible and restraint from injuries. Yoga helps in flexing the body parts that can be difficult to stretch in normal exercises. For example, the core and the torso, but the “bow and cobra” yoga poses make stretching these parts much easier.
Yoga can greatly decrease muscle tension. A research at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts proved that regular yoga training reduced muscle sourness in women who had performed some sort of different workouts.
- Maintain Balance
Yoga is all about gaining balance with the body and the soul. An athlete also requires balance in his different body parts so that he can do his jumps properly. For athletes, workouts and drills are very important for their sport, but these workouts can lead to imbalances of muscular strength. Body balances are improved through yoga making muscular strength more stable and divided within the body. In this regard, the “mountain and warrior” yoga poses can be especially beneficial for the lower body.
- Healthy Breathing
Everyone knows how to breathe. Right? And even athletes? Yes, everyone can breathe properly, but not in positions of stress and critical timing situations. If athletes are not breathing properly in such situations, accuracy to reach the goal becomes more difficult.
Yoga teaches Pranayama or proper breathing techniques under stressful postures. Most importantly practicing yoga daily can make you an expert in breathing properly no matter what the situation demands. Deep and calm breathing reduces anxiety, fear and nervousness; this triad is known to be the main cause for lowering self-confidence in a person.
- Relaxation through Meditation
At the end of the day, each athlete requires rest to recuperate from the physical stress. Meditation yoga exercises can provide pure relaxation of the body and the mind. It clears the focus and directs energy to the mind to concentrate well. The “child and corpse” yoga pose are especially good for increasing concentration.
Yoga also reduces depression and causes an overall feeling of contentment to develop. This is highly crucial to build up self confidence after one looses a game. Yoga does this by balancing hormones and nerves in a person. Emotions, when felt in the right way, can also become a source of energy for an athlete.
- Building Inner Strength
While work out machines may build your outer strength, it cannot really work on your inner strength so much. Inner strength is the basis of all other strengths, and it can be developed by doing yoga exercises.
- Increasing Stamina
Yoga increases stamina of athletes and provides a feeling of crossing limits. It helps in performing in pressure-oriented circumstances. It also builds up the strength to do achieve beyond the ordinary.
Basically, yoga teaches a person to gather all their energy from the body and use it towards attaining their goal. It can make athletes realize they have more energy than they thought they had.
Some of the other benefits of yoga for athletes are – it prevents injury, speeds up recovery, improves body control, promotes muscular symmetry, alleviates back aches, raises energy level, sharpens the mind, increases vision and improves sleep.
In a nutshell, yoga should be part of routine of an athlete. It has often proven to be fruitful in making good athletes better. So, if you’re planning to break records on your play field, join a yoga class in your area today! If you are not ready for that, do it in the comfort of your own home with The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga: A Personalized Practice for Strength, Flexibility, and Focus DVD.