I have played sports my whole life, peaking as a professional ultimate frisbee player for Indianapolis Red (yep that's me!). Yoga may be the perfect cross-training method for athletes. The point is not that yoga can replace conventional training, but rather how it can enhance it. If properly practiced, yoga can improve every part of an athletes performance, including the following:
Along with opening the body, yoga builds greater body awareness, including balance and stability. It also works smaller connective tissues and tendons that regular standard exercise will ignore.
Your core consists of many different muscles located deep within your trunk and pelvis. Yoga consistently brings awareness to stabilizer muscles such as the abdominals, psoas, obliques, back muscles, and many more which can aid in athletic performance.
I am talking about both mental and physical strength here. Power, strength, and speed are directly related to proper body mechanics. When the body is properly aligned, athletes can transmit force more efficiently and perform better across the board. Practicing yoga also increases mental resilience and builds perseverance with improved patience.
Yoga increases respiratory capacity, which is invaluable to athletes. Yoga has also been proven to enhance circulation, digestion, and efficiency of motion, which all further improve energy and endurance.
I consider flexibility to be an added benefit of yoga that comes naturally when you practice regularly and not the main purpose of it. Frequent yoga training can increase flexibility and range of motion while relieving muscle tension.
The idea of "resetting" in yoga is commonly used. By returning the body to its natural state, athletes can dramatically improve physical capacity.
The one thing that stalls progress even more than inadequate training is an injury. By improving body mechanics and awareness, yoga reduces the risk of injury, increasing competitive longevity.
With consistent practice, you too can experience better performance, improved health, and greater peace of mind, whatever your sport and whatever your degree of flexibility. Sign up for a virtual class today with Zen Lab and start reaping the benefits.