The benefits of yoga for athletes.
Yoga has far reaching benefits for anyone who practices sports. Whether you are a competitive athlete, or just looking to improve your game, incorporating Yoga into your exercise regimen can help you get stronger, more flexible and less injury prone. With regular yoga practice you will build endurance, reduce aches and pains, and recover faster between training sessions.
Yoga teaches how to breathe more efficiently. Pranayama, the practice of controlling the breath, involves the entire respiratory system and expands the lungs so as to take in more air. Deep and rhythmic breathing increases the flow of oxygen to each cell in the body, detoxifying the body by eliminating waste and toxins. Pranayama also serves as an important bridge between the mind, the spirit and the body. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga teaches how to integrate the body, the mind and the breath to stay focused, alert and calm in the face of intensity.
Yoga helps improve body alignment. The postures strengthen the core muscles in the torso, especially those that support the spine. Unlike typical excercise, practically every asana in Yoga has a positive effect on the spine. By continued practice, the spine can become stronger and more flexible and the body will become more properly aligned. Proper body alignment impacts every aspect of how you move, helping you to move freely, safely with a greater range of motion.
Increasing flexibility with yoga leads to more ease of movement and fewer injuries. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (a dynamic form of Yoga) tones and strengthens the muscles and the tendons to stabilize the joints. With continued practice yoga helps avoid acute and repetitive injury. It is often prescribed to help heal various injuries, including repetitive strain injuries, knee and back injuries, and pulled hamstrings.
Yoga improves muscular development. Many sports (such as tennis, biking, running) require to perform repetitive motions that develop some muscle groups, while ignoring others. The result can be imbalances that lead to uneven muscle development or chronic injuries on the dominant side. Yoga can help fix these imbalances. A well-rounded asana practice is very powerful because unlike other forms of exercise, it requires an even, centered strength, where the body works as one unit and every little far-reaching muscle gets stretched and strengthened.
Asanas can even work on the internal body, cleansing the organs and fortifying the bones. Yin Yoga (a meditative form of Yoga) in combination with Ayurvedic massage can help athletes find release from the stiff muscles in the back, neck, shoulders and legs. This practice can also be used for therapeutic purposes, to decrease stress, anxiety, emotional tension and improve the quality of sleep. Proper rest and sleep are crucial for the athlete's recovery process.
Overall, yoga is a perfect complements to any sports training. A dedicated practice helps free the body of physical constraints, enhancing athletic performance and ability.