Many athletes know the benefits of cross-training, mixing strength training in with cardio, and planning rest days. But now athletes ranging from the Philadelphia Eagles to NBA teams to the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Team are turning to a different form of cross-training: Yoga.
The visual of a yogi tucking their legs behind their head may come to mind, but even the flowing sequence of a sun salutation can increase flexibility in soft tissues. The balanced, full-body movements of yoga can reduce the impact of the repetitive movements performed by athletes that cause tension in the overused areas. Increasing flexibility in the areas of your body that are prone to holding tension improves ease of movement.
Listening to your Body
Athletes wear specialized clothing, shoes, or protective gear, but the main power behind the activity is their own body. They need to be completely in touch with their bodies in order to understand when to slow down, speed up, work harder, or take a much-needed break. Yoga teaches self-awareness and the skill of listening to your body so you can pick up on its cues.
To push your body through a practice, game, or race regardless of what place you’re going to finish in, you need a strong, focused, and resilient mind. Yoga strengthens your mindfulness and awareness that you can carry with you onto the field or course.
Incorporating Yoga into your Training
Working with a qualified teacher is the first step to incorporating a yoga practice into your training and/or recuperation. One on one instruction is the best method for learning and developing an effective practice. General yoga classes can also help, but as with any physical and mental work, having a private session is best. It is in the private session that appropriate modifications are made in asana, breath and mindfulness practices, tailored to the ever-changing needs of the athlete.
Learn more about Private Yoga Sessions with Martha Catz, M.S., E-RYT to help strengthen your athletic performance through yoga.