Yoga has several physical and mental benefits that can improve an athlete’s overall performance.
From improving balance and coordination to developing endurance and mental resilience, yoga can offer plenty of benefits to athletes. It can even reduce stress, support sound sleep and enhance relaxation.
Why Yoga is Beneficial For Athletes?
Here's a look at seven benefits of yoga for athletes:
1) Enhances Core Strength
Regular yoga practice can enhance athletes’ stability and core strength. The slow and gentle movements involved in asanas require a strong core. The contractions add another level of resistance training to your standard equipment-based exercises.
There are also various poses that target those muscle groups that are often underused in other exercises, like swimming, cycling, etc. By working on these neglected muscles, you can strengthen them and offer support to your major muscles. Strengthening all these muscles allows them to work at their best, improving and enhancing athletic performance.
2) Helps Develop Good Breathing
As an athlete, you might already know the impact breathing can have on your performance.
As deep breathing is the key to improving concentration, yoga can help you build a habit of breathing properly and correctly. Practicing asanas enhances body-mind connection, and as an athlete, you can benefit from that combination.
3) Improves Balance
Coordination and balance are two major aspects that are very significant for enhancing sports performance and avoiding injuries.
Performing yoga improves balance and coordination and also increases your overall concentration and mental stability. By increasing your balance, you can potentially alleviate the risk of falls and boost your technique while bettering your performances.
4) Great Way to Cross-train
Practicing yoga is one of the ideal ways to involve cross-training in your fitness routine.
Cross-training is very important for athletes who perform the same sport year-round, as including new exercises or asanas can help add variety and reduce training boredom. Additionally, it can also help them recover from strength workouts.
Since there are plenty of yoga poses that can be done at low and high intensity, cross-training can offer a productive workout session for all athletic needs.
5) Prevents Injury
Sports injuries are generally caused due to quick changes in motion that put pressure on the joints, lack of stretching, warm-ups, imbalanced training, tightness of the muscles, less flexibility, etc.
Doing regular yoga can help prevent injuries by emphasising more stretching, strengthening and balance training in every muscle in the body.
6) Helps Recover Muscles
There are several asanas that focus on stretching the muscle tissues of your hamstrings and other deeper muscles of the connective tissues.
The significance of stretching these areas is very important to get over any health obstacle and also for your overall athletic performance. Practicing yoga poses for muscle recovery also helps your body quickly recover or bounce back from hardcore performance, and most importantly, aids in injury prevention.
7) Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Yoga can potentially help athletes get over the stress and anxiety they face regularly. Practicing a session of poses along with deep breathing patterns can reduce stress and the level of cortisol (stress hormone), thereby helping athletes feel more relaxed and calm.
Overall, yoga can train your body to make you feel happy and relaxed. There are a few yoga asanas that are, in general, beneficial for athletes. These include:
- Downward-facing dog pose for calf, hamstring and shoulder
- Wheel pose for arm strength, hips and shoulder
- Cobra pose for spine and lower back health
- Side angle pose for legs, hips and balance
- Boat pose for the core muscles
- Pigeon pose for glutes, hip flexors, psoas and outer hips.
Yoga offers tremendous benefits to athletes. It's worth giving a try if you want to improve your strength, balance and flexibility while enhancing your overall sports performance.
Even though it'san incredible exercise option, you can still get injured if the poses are not performed correctly. So, before taking the plunge, learn to perform each asana in the correct form to avoid any injury or discomfort. If you're a beginner, start slow, and take help from a certified yoga instructor.