What makes yoga a good method for athletes to improve their performance, and to heal from injuries and chronic pain?
First of all, there is yoga and then there is asana (yoga poses). Yoga is a complete discipline to promote physical and mental health, and to increase self-awareness in both body and mental focus.
Asana are the physical postures that can be modified to each athlete’s needs for enhancing performance and improving limitations due to injuries. Asana counteracts repetitive motions that athletes often encounter, to create a more balanced and effective movement. Asana together with breathing and mindfulness techniques, when appropriately taught and applied, can create long term positive change in performance. These practices can also reduce the potential for future injury.
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.
These are just some types of athletes that can be helped with yoga.
Yoga for Baseball Players
Many of the issues in baseball are similar to golf. The ballistic movements coupled with constant one-sided (unilateral) action can lead to imbalances that will eventually cause pain and loss of range of motion. The asana poses work symmetry back into an imbalanced body, strengthening the weaker side. Through appropriate stretching, greater range of motion can be achieved.
Yoga for Golfers
The twisting and ballistic movement on that swing can really get to the lower back, elbows and knees. The hips too can suffer with the pivoting movement that every golfer does with every big swing. Yoga can offer slow and steady release from tight back muscles that limit range of motion for that powerful swing. It will also improve focus through breathing techniques. http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/23/health/yoga-for-golf/index.html
Yoga for Equestrians
You might be straddling that horse, but because you have a natural dominant side in strength and coordination (and they may be different sides), that imbalance can increase over time if not correct. That imbalance will affect the movement of the horse and the horse may develop imbalances to compensate for yours. Yoga, through asymmetric movements, develops symmetry in strength and flexibility.
Yoga for Jiu Jitsu and other martial arts
Jiu Jitsu (and other martial arts) is wonderful methods to experience body movement. It takes strength, coordination, flexibility and concentration. But especially in Jiu Jitsu the body can become contracted in certain ways that can cause lower back pain, shoulder and hip pain. Being able to move ballistically sometimes and other times to sustain contraction can place tremendous demand on joints, ligaments and tendons. Yoga increases body awareness in one’s posture, increases back flexibility, and supports the martial arts in concentration and breathing techniques.
About The Yoga Connection for Athletes
Martha has always been involved in physical activities. She has practiced rock climbing, golfing, weight lifting, gymnastics, was an equestrian for over 25 years, played golf, and is currently a student of Jiu Jitsu. Martha’s understanding of physical movement through her yoga therapy training combined with her own experiences in sports, brings a unique perspective to working with athletes of all types.