Sports are fun and challenging for all. There are professional, semi-pro, college, high school and recreational athletes all striving to challenge themselves in their craft while trying to prevent themselves from injury. So, what we have been taught to do prior to participate in our sport to prevent injury…. stretch!
Did you know there are approximately 700 skeletal muscles, 360 joints, 1,320 tendons, 900 ligaments, 206 bones and cartilage that work together to keep us moving? Most of us probably pay attention to the major muscles to stretch before the big game and don’t realize how important it is to maintain a healthy balance between all connecting tissues.
Well guess what? The exercise called Yoga that you thought was just for girls is the best kept secret to help keep your body and mind flexible, balanced and strong. Presently, the armed service elite forces such as the Navy Seals, Green Beret and Marine RECON have adopted Yoga to their regimen to become lean, strong and most importantly calm when faced with danger in combat situations.
Let’s look at the 6 ways Yoga can benefit the Athlete:
- Yoga increases Flexibility – When you hold a pose for 2 minutes, you’re increasing flexibility. All connectivity tissue is being stretched. Yoga provides various asana’s called movements for various parts of the body. Slowly but surely, after the 5th day doing the same movements you will be able to hold the pose for 3 to 5 minutes and stretch more deeply.
- Flexibility Increases Strength – I love the analogy of a bow and arrow to highlight the relationship between strength and flexibility. If the string on the bow is wound too tight, there will be no give to pull the arrow back. If the string is too loose, there will be no tension to pull from, and the arrow will flop. Like a bow and arrow, we want our bodies to be strong and muscular, and capable of power. To do this, we need to also be flexible so we can harness all that power to launch with speed and precision.
- Balanced Bodies Prevent Injuries – When your body in in alignment, especially your spine, you’re going to be prone to less injuries. Since everything is connected, you may experience soreness in your neck that may be caused by an imbalance in your rhomboids because your muscles are tight there. Keeping everything flexible is key to prevent less injuries on and off the field.
- Yoga can Compliment Any Sport – Think about the sport you play, and compliment yoga poses that will “Add Value” to your sport. For example, tennis players and wide receivers need their spines to be able to twist, often quickly, in both directions. If you’re playing baseball, you need to open the shoulders more, and work on deep squats for hip flexibility.
- Breathing is Key – Most of us don’t know how to breathe properly. You may be using your neck, chest or shoulders to breathe, which leads to tightness and decreased range of motion. Pranayama breathing in Yoga teaches us how to breathe using our diaphragm. As a result, you will have better exercise stamina, mental clarity and peace.
- Visualization – At the end of a Yoga class, the last pose is called savasana (corpse pose) where you lay down on your back and relax from all the asana’s you performed. Some say this is the most important pose of them all. For athletes, this is the perfect opportunity for you to visualize being success, strategy and having your teammates back. Creating good results in the mind first with this meditation technique will fuel athletes out on the field
I have been working out and doing sports (wrestling, baseball, bowling and softball) for over 49 years. I had 2 shoulder surgeries in each shoulder over the years and have 2 herniated discs in my lower back that bothered me most of the time. I certainly didn’t breathe properly. One day, when I was 40, I finally listened to someone to try Yoga. I was always intimidated to do so because I thought I wasn’t flexible enough, it was for girls and worried that guys would tease me. However, after that 1st class, even though it was hard, I saw the value instantaneously and never looked back.
As a result, 7 years later, I went to school to become a Yoga teacher. Reason being, is because it has changed my life so much that I want to give the gift back to as many people as possible who may be intimidated just like I was 9 years ago. I’m very passionate about how Yoga can transform your life and I want to help you prevent injury and increase your mental acuity using asana movements and pranayama breathing techniques.
Contact YoMenGa to come out and create a Yoga plan that compliments your sport. Together we can make your athletes more awesome than they already are!