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Why Every Type of Athlete Should Do Yoga

When discussing yoga with athletes, it is often glossed over that the practice of yoga actually has 8 different areas of focus. We do this because we want to make yoga more palatable for athletes. When in reality, the non-physical aspects of yoga are often what athletes need the most to take their skills to the next level. These other 7 parts of yoga mostly address how you should be dealing with yourself and others in the healthiest way possible. In my opinion, these other limbs benefit athletes for many reasons, not just for physical ones.

Ethical Treatment of Self and Others
The first two parts of a full yoga practice involve paying attention to the ethical treatment of the self and others. This attention reduces conflicts and stress in the body, which will undoubtedly improve any athlete’s performance.

Working with Breath
Another part of yoga is to mindfully practice and improve the quality and control of breath. This has it's many obvious benefits for any athlete participating in any sport.

Sense-quieting and Concentration
Two other aspects of yoga are focused on practicing quieting the senses and improving concentration, skills any athlete will tell you are necessary for peak performance.

Reflection and Observation
The practice of reflection and observation is vital for any human, let alone athlete, to function at their highest potential. Analyzing movement patterns and nuances of behaviors lead to true growth and improvement.

Physical Work
Finally, and most obviously, the physical practice of yoga is highly beneficial for every type of athlete. Specifically, certain poses may be of great benefit to athletes from various sports.

For example:
Runners: Practicing Pigeon pose stretches, lengthens, and releases the hip flexors, glutes, piriformis, psoas, low-back, and groin; all of which become incredibly tight and overworked with repetitive running.

Golfers: Generating speed and strength with the torso creates a need for golfers to strengthen the spine, increase flexibility in the spine, and create stability in a twisted position. Triangle pose, Cobra pose, and a twisted variation of any pose will be highly beneficial to golfers.

Skiers: The crouched position necessary for skiing often creates low back pain, knee pain, and over-developed quads paired with weak hamstrings. All of these can be remedied with forward folds, seated forward folds, and back-body strengtheners like Cobra, Bow and Locust.

Tennis Players: Tennis players have often depleted strength and suppleness in their shoulders, wrists, and elbows. Shoulder openers such as Diver’s stretch and humble warrior can help to open tight shoulders.

Cyclist: Due to the nature of their sport, cyclists can have tight hips and hamstrings, as well as a closed chest and hunched shoulders. Cyclist will greatly benefit from any pose that opens the chest such as Camel, Bow, or Supported Fish.

Crossfitters: As much as we all love Crossfit, it’s very intense and taxing on the body. Crossfitters benefit most from any restorative pose. A time in their week that trains their bodies and their brains to do the exact opposite of the “push harder and faster” message it gets the rest of the week. The more bolsters and blankets and relaxation the better!

So now that you know why all sorts of athletes should do yoga, come on out to Joy Yoga Center and take a class with us! You won't regret it!

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