It’s no secret that yoga is a healthy and beneficial endeavor. Yoga for athletes adds a new dimension of muscular movement and body awareness – and that’s just the beginning. If you’re looking for a way to improve your athletic performance, this ancient practice provides a path toward excelling beyond your current level.
Perhaps you’re interested in practicing yoga but leery about what class would be most appropriate for a fit, athletic person with little to no experience with yoga. With at least 50 types of yoga available the good news is whatever your athletic focus is, there is a type of yoga for you. Yoga helps to build stability in the body, reduce risk of injury, build core strength and improve imbalances from overtraining/under-training certain muscle groups. The list of benefits is quite extensive – take a peek at some benefits related specifically to athletes.
In Sanskrit the word yoga means “to yoke” or “to join,” which relates to the connection between the mind and the body. Yoga invites us to turn inward and find a place of stillness inside, whatever our external circumstances. Learning to breathe and find calm amidst chaos can directly translate to improved performance on the court, the field, or wherever your training takes you. As Yogi Berra said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.” Many yoga practitioners describe a feeling of well-being and overall peace of mind that carries over long after mats are rolled up and put away.
So how often, what style, and what level of intensity will best serve you right now? What about in 6 months? If you’re incorporating yoga into your overall wellness program, it can be helpful to understand how your training may be impacting your body. Variables to consider:
- Flexibility or lack thereof – Running, cycling, weight training, CrossFit and other intense activities decrease flexibility. Practicing yoga can bring flexibility back into your body, or help you experience it for the first time.
- Seasonal demands of your sport or activity – Increase the intensity of your yoga practice during the off-season and support recovery when training heavily or in-season.
- Injuries – Be patient with yourself if you’re recovering from an injury. There are many ways to accommodate and support your practice with props and other modifications. Practice yoga today so that you may practice yoga tomorrow.
Types of Yoga
In times of intense training, you might add something gentle and relaxing to support to your overall wellness with yoga at the Village. Gentle Yoga is comprised of stretching, breath and movement to open up the body and can be a good option for someone with limited flexibility. Restorative Yoga encourages relaxation through supported poses with props for comfort. In Yin Yoga, the focus is on deep stretches targeting the fascia, tendons and other “plastic” tissues, and the poses are held for a longer period of time. Yoga Nidra is a yoga practice known as “Yogic Sleep” and there is no movement and students are guided into a deep level of relaxation allowing the mind to reach new heights.
For athletes seeking a more challenging physical experience, there are many options. A Flow or Vinyasa Yoga will move through series of poses linked by breath and may be fast (Power) or slow (Gentle). Generally it will be designated as “slow flow” or by levels to indicate the level of difficulty. Hot Yoga is another popular style of yoga that many athletes enjoy, since the intense heat allows the muscles to feel more limber and flexible. Ashtanga Yoga develops strength, flexibility and discipline by linking breath with movement through a set series of poses.
The Village is happy to assist you with any guidance. Offering insight into your training, background, and injuries will help you ensure the safest, most efficient route to a good experience.