Yoga. A workout that many either love or hate. I used to camp myself firmly in the latter. Then when pregnant with Braedon, I gave some yoga classes a try for a change and found I enjoyed them thoroughly. After his birth and as I picked up running, I kept it up as often as possible. I will admit, though, that the classes my old gym offered didn’t keep me motivated to attend regularly. Now, at the gym I recently joined, they have an entirely separate yoga studio with certified teachers and classes included. I have gone the past two weeks as recovery from my long runs and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
In today’s guest post, Carolyn will explain just why all of us athletes (that means any recreational runner or tennis/soccer/etc player or even committed gym lover) need to include yoga. Thanks, Carolyn!
The Benefits of Yoga for Athletes
A regular practice of yoga offers a variety of benefits for athletes. Athletic activities include football, soccer, swimming, basketball and golf, to name only a few. Each athletic activity requires a set of specific skills and movements. When these movements are repeated over and over again, a stress injury may result. Practicing
yoga poses will help to balance the body and prevent further injury.
Often athletes will be very strong in one area of movement and limited in others due to the repetitive nature of the sport they are engaging in. For example, a basketball player may have great balance and focus from years of practice "shooting hoops," but he or she may have difficulty with shortened or damaged Achilles’ tendons from
all of the time spent running and jumping. Repetitive stress injuries occur in many different athletic activities, including tennis, golf and running.
There are many different types of yoga from which to choose. There are some forms of yoga that are quite athletically challenging and others that are more calming and restorative in nature. A few of the benefits of practicing yoga regularly include core strengthening, increased flexibility and injury prevention. Enhancing all of these areas will help give an athlete an edge when competing in his or her chosen sport.
Yoga is a great practice for increasing core strength. A strong core is vital to any athletic activity. A strong core also helps to protect an athlete from back injury by strengthening the back, hip and abdominal muscles. The types of yoga that are particularly effective for increasing core strength are power yoga workouts that are
flow-based. This means that the yoga poses are linked together with the movements of the Sun Salutation, which are very strengthening for the core part of the body. Some of the more popular flow-based yoga workouts are Ashtanga, Bikram and Anusara Yoga.
Of course, many of us have heard of increasing our levels of flexibility through yoga. This is a critical component of maintaining health and optimal agility during athletic activities. Maintaining a flexible, strong body also helps to prevent injury. Many athletes have areas of their bodies that are quite strong but tight, due to all of the
strain on a specific set of muscles. A regular practice of yoga will help to maintain balance and flexibility throughout the entire body. Not to mention, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Glen Axelrod states, “Yoga is excellent for strengthening both flexibility and balance.”
A soccer player may have very strong legs but extremely tight hamstrings due to the amount of running during a game. Regularly practicing yoga poses that stretch out the front of the body and the legs will release pressure on the lower back, further protecting the athlete from injury. Practicing yoga poses that stretch out the legs will
also help to flush out lactic acid that accumulates in the muscles during vigorous exercise. This will help an athlete to recover more quickly from a strenuous game or workout.
Carolyn Fallon is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well being. She is an avid spinner, healthy cooking enthusiast and lover of life. Check out Carolyn’s blog at http://fullonfit.blogspot.com!
YOUR TURN: How often do you practice yoga? Any reasons you may want to add it if you haven’t?