Whether you are a seasoned tennis player or a newbie, turning to yoga to ease your aching muscles while playing this intense sport can be one of the most productive things you can do to relax your body and mind.
Tennis is a cardiovascularly intense sport that takes a toll on the player’s mind and body with its long and tiring matches. Certain yoga exercises for tennis players particularly focus on increasing muscular balance, mobility, and flexibility in the spine. It is a beneficial practice as it helps promote strength and also assists the players in combating future injuries.
5 yoga exercises for tennis players
Here’s a look at the top 5 yoga poses that work great for tennis players and help promote overall sports performance.
1. Reverse hand-to-foot pose
The reverse hand-to-foot pose in yoga focuses on stretching the inner forearms and wrists, which are important in gripping the racket. This pose can also help alleviate forearm imbalance and protects the wrist extensors while reducing the risk of tennis elbows.
To do Reverse hand-to-foot pose:
- From a standing position, slowly fold forward over both your legs and bend your knees deeply so you can put your hands on the floor.
- Now rotate your forearms so that your fingers get pointed towards your feet. Make sure to keep your palms on the floor.
- Press your palms on the floor and feel a stretch in your inner forearms.
- Optionally, you can also step on the back of your fingers to deepen the stretch.
- Hold the pose for a few minutes and then relax.
2. Cat-cow pose
The cat-cow pose in yoga is made up of two movements that gently stretch the entire spine and strengthen the abdominal muscles.
To do Cat-cow pose:
- Get down on your knees and hands with your legs and arms at a shoulder-width distance. Keep your fingers pointing forward.
- Now inhale and lift your head to look up at the ceiling and simultaneously, arch your back. At the same time, widen your shoulders and press your stomach towards the ground.
- As you exhale, lower your head and pull your stomach towards your spine. At the same time, round your back up and hold the position.
3. Cow face pose
In tennis, a lot of tension goes to the arms and shoulders as the players perform swinging actions – backhand and forehand. And since players use one dominant hand to play, it is quite crucial to work both arms to encourage muscular balance. The cow face pose is one of the best ways to get a deep stretch on both the shoulders and arms, while also offering a gentle stretch to the outer hips.
To do Cow face pose:
- Take a seated position. Bend your right knee and bring your left foot outside your right hip while moving it underneath your right knee. Now bring your right foot outside your left hip so that your right knee gets stacked on top of your left knee.
- Lengthen your spine and slowly stretch your arms out with your palms facing forward. Rotate your right shoulder internally so that your palm faces the wall behind you and your thumb gets pointed down. Sweep your arm behind your back and walk your hand between your shoulder blades with palms facing out.
- Stretch your left arm up with your fingertips towards the ceiling and bend your elbow to reach down for your right fingertips. Hook all the fingers together, if they reach. You now have your right knee on top of the left elbow pointing up.
- Open your chest and stay in position for a few minutes.
4. Pigeon pose
The pigeon pose in yoga offers a gentle hip opening position and stretches the hip flexors and quadriceps.
To do Pigeon pose:
- Start the pose on your knees and hands and slowly slide your left knee between your hands. If your knee feels stressed, bring your left ankle closer to your hip.
- Centre yourself so that your weight gets even. You may support your upper body with your hands, or simply lower yourself to your elbows.
- Stay in the position for a few minutes and then switch sides.
5. Warrior II
The warrior II pose in yoga is another effective pose to develop strong legs. It not only builds endurance for a lengthened period of time but also improves flexibility in the hip joints and knees. This pose opens the chest and enhances breathing capacity, which is very important for a strenuous sport like tennis.
To do Warrior II:
- Stand straight with your arms stretched straight out from your shoulders. Position your feet parallel to each other and make sure your ankles are beneath your wrists.
- Turn your right foot to face the front and angle your left toe in towards the upper left corner of the floor.
- Slowly bend your right knee and distribute your bodyweight evenly between both your legs.
- Press down firmly through the edge of your back foot and make sure to keep your head stacked over your pelvis and your shoulders over your hip joints.
- Reach both arms towards the back and front and turn your head to keep your gaze past your right fingers.
- Stay in this position for a few minutes.
Just like any other competitive sport, tennis also requires both mental and physical strength. Regular yoga practice can potentially help with this by offering mental calmness and massive strength, no matter how tough the situation on the court gets.