The Benefits of Yoga for Athletes

by tinareale on November 28, 2012

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!

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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.

Core Strengthening
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.

Flexibility
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.”

Injury Prevention
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?

{ 28 comments }

1 NancyO November 28, 2012 at 10:58 am

I practice YogaSculpt at CorePower Yoga and LOOOOVE IT!

2 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More November 28, 2012 at 11:02 am

My original plan for today was to run 3 miles but I woke up knowing that I needed to do one thing: yoga. I know and understand (and even preach!) the importance of flexibility training and yoga, and yet it’s been severely missing from my regimen this past week. Today the running gets put on hold and yoga takes precedence.

3 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats November 28, 2012 at 11:16 am

Ahhh I really need to get back into yoga, ad I’ve been telling myself this for months! I’m currently an injured runner so I need it now more than ever! I just have a hard time adding it into my schedule, and paying for it!

4 Sharla November 28, 2012 at 11:28 am

I finally found a class I love and go every Monday. I can tell a huge difference in all m y other workouts!

5 Christin November 28, 2012 at 11:32 am

Great post! I’ve recently gotten back into yoga…I find that the teacher really makes all the difference in my experience. I like it when teachers aren’t afraid to be proactive with class involvement and aren’t afraid to go around and correct form…the teacher I have now has really helped me improve and it’s really helped in my other workouts!

6 tinareale November 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm

This teacher at my new gym does that where she corrects form. The first time I was like WOAH why is this woman touching me…but then I *greatly* appreciated it.

7 Stefanie @ Thin Vegetarian November 28, 2012 at 11:34 am

I try to do a yoga session at least twice a month. My body and mind always feel so refreshed after!

8 Carissa November 28, 2012 at 11:37 am

I probably only end up doing it a few times a month, but I always LOVE the way I feel when I’m done. It felt great when I was pregnant, too!

9 Lee November 28, 2012 at 11:52 am

I need to do more yoga. Honestly, it’s the cost that gets me. My gym offers it, but it’s pretty terrible there

10 tinareale November 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm

That’s how it was at my old gym. I went because it still helped me stretch out. The new place I’m going has been impressing me left and right. Felt like I was at a real studio.

11 Christine @ Love, Life, Surf November 28, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Such a great post!! Yoga is a big part of my fitness practice now although I don’t get to practice as much as I’d like. I aim for a good flow class once a week. It’s definitely made a huge difference in my body and running/surfing/everything.

12 She Rocks Fitness November 28, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I make it a priority to aim to take 3 classes of yoga a week. It’s my passion and it has helped me so much with my running and sanity. ;) Great guest post and so glad to see Tina that you are a regular yogi these days! xoxo

13 Molly @ Just Your Average Athlete November 28, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I’m getting into yoga more lately. My body seems to be craving it. I used to go pretty regularly a few years ago but stopped. Maybe it’s time to reintegrate it into my workout routines!

14 Lisa @ RunWiki November 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I am dying to find a “yoga for runners” class and incorporate it into my training… I’ve done it in the past and it is so helpful for speed and endurance.

15 Julia H. @ Live Young & Prosper November 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Argh, I miss my yoga! I’m in the yoga club at my college, but keep having conflicts during the one time a week they meet. I don’t think I’ve been to a yoga class in at least a month!

16 Jess @ Blonde Ponytail November 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I’m with you. I think more and more college athletics are bringing yoga into off-season conditioning because flexibility is so vital to performance!

17 Lisa November 28, 2012 at 1:08 pm

It’s so beneficial. I just wish I liked it! I need it!

18 Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! November 28, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Yoga has been the best thing for my running! I’ve had *no* issues with shins and hips since starting to practice yoga regularly. AND – you can get a really great workout from it, if you make it hard!

19 Kristen Grimes November 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Great information! Thank You!!!! I was doing yoga regularly and it was awesome then for some reason I didn’t have time…and ended up having a very sore knee instead. Yoga is now firmly back in the exercise rotation! :-)

20 Pavement Runner November 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm

I really, really wish I did more of this. It is definitely on my list of things to add into my routine more often. I just don’t do it enough and I love doing it, too. So weird.

21 Linz @ Itz Linz November 28, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I wish I had more time for yoga!!

22 Angela @ Happy Fit Mama November 28, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I love yoga! I’ve found it compliments my running addiction perfectly. When I slack on hitting the mat that’s when I feel achy and more stiff.

23 Bek @ Crave November 29, 2012 at 12:09 am

It seems everywhere I go someone is convincing me to practise yoga ;) Is it a sign?

24 tinareale November 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Haha! Must be.

25 Ricy Mardona November 29, 2012 at 12:31 am

Nice blog. thanks for sharing, i do yoga everyday and it is very useful.

26 Alyssa November 29, 2012 at 4:56 am

Great post. yoga is based on this definition, as it focuses on bringing together the mind and body. If you’re an athlete, you can benefit from yoga whether you want to improve your game, develop core strength, stretch your muscles or simply relax and unwind.

27 Lauren (@poweredbypb) November 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Love yoga, I go to a gentle yoga class every now and again and it really loosens up my tight muscles and hips from running!

28 Alice January 11, 2013 at 5:11 am

Hi there, really nice blog. I’ve recently joined a company selling all things yoga, And it was only recently when I took up a love for it myself! (it helps that I get free yoga mats). I’ve become obsessed with reading up on the benefits and finding different poses.

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