Yoga. Have you considered integrating it into your regular exercise routine? If not, you should probably reconsider. Because yoga isn’t just for free-spirited deep-breathers. It’s for everyone. In fact, it might just be the thing you need to take your performance to the next level. Whether you’re looking for a way to relax or just looking for a way to improve your performance, here’s the scoop on yoga for athletes.
Flexibility Is Key
Regular stretching before and after a workout can help your performance by warming up your muscles before you get started (especially if you’re an avid HIIT fan). But did you know that flexibility does more than just get that blood moving?
Yep, no joke. As it turns out, flexibility plays a huge role in how you perform. From weightlifting to running, dedicated athletes often lack the flexibility that they need to get the most out of their performance. Tight muscles can affect the alignment of your muscles and joints. When you’re not flexible enough to stay properly aligned, your performance can suffer.
When you regularly practice yoga, the tension in your muscles is released. As those muscles relax, your flexibility improves. This allows them to move more freely and react more efficiently. More flexibility, more power. Plus, it’s just another way to help those muscles recover a little bit faster. So go on and sprint and rep it out – we’re here to tell you that yoga for athletes can help you achieve your performance goals.
Proper alignment and posture don’t just help your performance from a power perspective. Proper form is essential to preventing serious injuries.
Yoga can also increase your sense of spatial awareness. Among other things, it’s good for improving your balance and stability. Try opting for poses like the eagle pose, half-moon pose, and side plank pose to increase your sense of balance and stability.
Some yoga poses focus on building core strength by engaging specific muscles in the abdominal area. The best part? These yoga moves don’t have to be complicated to strengthen those core muscles. If you’re looking for a good core boost, try boat post, cat post, or any of the plank poses.
Take a Deep Breath
Practicing yoga regularly opens you up – and we’re not talking about just your muscles. Yoga can also increase your breathing efficiencies. Proper breathing techniques aren’t just for relieving stress.
It’s time to fess up – how much time do you actually spend thinking about your breathing. Sure, it might sound crazy, but we’re here to tell you that it can make a significant difference.
Let’s take a second to think about it. When you’re going hard at the gym or during your run, it’s easy to get distracted. Whether you’re dealing with tired muscles or just everyday distractions (like that growing to-do list), your breathing technique is probably the last thing that you’re focusing on.
Yoga incorporates a breathing technique called pranayama. This technique helps isolate the breath to your rib area, which can take pressure and tension out of your shoulders, neck, and chest. Next time you’re struggling to catch your breath after a few hard reps, check to see if you’re following proper pranayama techniques.
If you’ve been putting off getting into yoga because you think it’s not for you, we’re hoping you’ll reconsider. Every athlete should make yoga their BFF. Not only can it help you increase your balance and flexibility, but it can also significantly reduce your chances of injury and even help you breathe more effectively while you’re getting your sweat on. So go on and get your downward dog on. We think you’ll be glad you did.