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How Yoga Can Help You Excel at Your Favorite Sport

Do you feel as if you haven't quite reached your full potential in your sport or athletic activity? Adding yoga to your training regimen may help you reach your goals.

Yoga Focuses on the Mind-Body Connection

Have you ever performed poorly because you just couldn't focus? Practicing yoga helps you tune out distractions and negative thoughts, allowing you to focus fully on the movements of your body. Meditation, an integral part of every yoga session, calms and clears your mind. When you meditate, you'll repeat a mantra (a certain word or sound) or focus only on your breathing. Meditation reduces stress, increases relaxation, improves concentration and decreases tension in your muscles and joints. When doubts or distracting thoughts creep into your mind during a race or game, it's much easier to dismiss them if you've learned how to meditate.

Daily Yoga Practice May Reduce Your Risk of Injury

Many types of sports focus on improving one particular group of muscles, rather than strengthening all of the muscles in the body. Unfortunately, a significant disparity in the strength of muscles may increase the likelihood of injuries. The weaker muscles in your body may not be able to handle the burden placed on them, which can result in sprains, strains, tendinitis, bursitis, stress fractures and other injuries.

Yoga Benefits Your Entire Body

Yoga works every joint and muscle in your body. When you practice yoga regularly, you'll improve core strength, decrease muscle tension, improve joint function and improve the alignment of your spine. Professional soccer player Christen Press discussed the ways practicing yoga has improved her performance in a 2015 Yoga Journal article. She noted that poses that open the hips and shoulders and lengthen the hamstrings have helped release tension in her back and neck.

Flexibility and Balance Improves with Regular Yoga Practice

Are you unhappy with your golf or baseball swing? Range of motion problems due to tight muscles and joints may make it difficult to swing a club or bat easily or perform other motions essential to your particular sport. Yoga poses are designed to improve the flexibility of your muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons, which may increase your range of motion. Balance, stability and coordination, crucial aspects of most sports, also increase when you practice yoga.

Researchers explored the effects of yoga on flexibility in male college athletes in a study published in the International Journal of Yoga in 2016. After participating in bi-weekly yoga sessions for 10 weeks, study participants achieved significant gains in both balance and flexibility.

Yoga Enhances Power and Endurance

Strengthening the smaller muscles that support larger muscle groups and improving body alignment can correct body mechanic issues that may have limited your performance in the past. Thanks to your yoga sessions, you may notice that you have more power and strength and can run or jump for longer periods of time without tiring.

Deep breathing exercises performed as a part of your yoga practice also play a role in improved endurance. When you become adept at deep breathing, your respiratory capacity actually increases, making it much easier to control your breathing during training sessions and games.

Yoga may even help counteract the effects of exercise-induced asthma. Turkish researchers discovered that asthmatic children who received yoga training had a significant improvement in maximum forced expiratory volume (FEV). (FEV is is a measurement of the amount of air you can exhale forcefully.)

Recovery Improves by Practicing Yoga

After strenuous activity, your body needs time to recuperate. A yoga session can stretch contracted muscles, restore energy and relieve tension in the ligaments, tendons, muscles and joints. Yoga also helps you strengthen your muscles and improve endurance after an injury.

Could your athletic performance use a little boost? Yoga classes offer a fun, effective way to condition your body, clear your mind and improve endurance. Not sure which type of class is best for you? Call us and we'll help you find the perfect yoga class for your needs.

Sources:

Alternative Therapies in Health Medicine: Is Yoga Training Beneficial for Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction, March/April 2014

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24657956

Active.com: Why Every Athlete Should Practice Yoga

https://www.active.com/health/articles/why-every-athlete-should-practice-yoga?page=1

Yoga Journal: How World Cup Soccer Champ Christen Press Focuses with Yoga + Meditation, 9/17/15

https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/natural-athlete-world-cup-champ-christen-press-stays-focused-field-yoga-meditation

Shape: Why Every Athlete Should Do Yoga

https://www.shape.com/blogs/working-it-out/why-every-athlete-should-do-yoga

International Journal of Yoga: Impact of 10 Weeks of Yoga Practice on Flexibility and Balance of College Athletes, 2016

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728955/

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