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10 Best Yoga Poses for Athletes

Athletes dedicate their time, energy, and effort to being upright, strong, and sturdy. Below are 10 poses that will help enhance and balance an athlete's body and mind.

Child’s Pose - Child’s pose definitely calms the mind and helps alleviate stress and anxiety by creating a safe, supported space to breathe deeply. Beyond the mental, there are also several physical benefits of the pose such as release of tension in the back, shoulders and chest. This pose gently stretching the hips, thighs and ankles, and stretching muscles, tendons and ligaments in the knee.

Cats and Cows - Flowing between cat and cow poses creates emotional balance. The movement relieves stress and calms the mind. It can also improve posture and balance. Cats and cows strengthen and stretch the spine and neck as well as the hips, abdomen and back, all of which tend to be tight and overworked in an athlete’s body.

Down Dog - The most well-known of yoga poses has many benefits for athletes. Down Dog improves posture and balance as well as increasing coordination. It strengthens and stretches the spine, hips, neck, and back. Down Dog also creates emotional balance, relieves stress, and calms the mind. All of which are wonderful benefits for the competitive mind of an athlete.

Forward Folds - Forward folds elongate the spine and open the back of the body. Because of this elongation, forward folds improve posture and balance. Forward folds also create emotional balance, relieve stress, and calm the mind as athletes can metaphorically dump their mind onto the mat as they physically stretch their hamstrings and low back.

Backbends - Backbends shake athletes out of their comfort zone. They keep athletes’ brains healthy and hearts active. Backbends are also a great teacher of life skills. They bring the spine back to its natural flexion. We bend forward all day long, sitting at a desk, driving our car, picking up our kids or pets. Because of this, at first, backbends can feel unnatural. However, our spines are meant to be flexible and have a complete range of motion forward and backward. By regularly practicing backbends athletes will restore their spines to their natural flexibility.

Pigeon - Pigeon pose has a plethora of benefits for athletes. Physical benefits include opening the hip joint, lengthening the hip flexor, extending the groin and psoas, stretching the thighs, gluteals and piriformis muscles. Pigeon pose can lessen or alleviate sciatic pain and decrease lower back pain and stiffness. Emotional benefits of pigeon arise from the release of the hips. It is a primal reaction to store stress, trauma, fear and anxiety in the hips. These bottled up feelings create tight hips. Releasing negative feelings and undesirable energy stored in their systems is very beneficial for athletes.

Twists - Yoga twists increase the flexibility of the oblique or waist muscles, the abdominals and the back muscles. Positions of modern living can leave these muscles short and tight which can lead to lower back pain and poor posture. Athletes intensify this shortening when they ride a bike or run long distances. Emotionally twists benefit athletes by detoxifying their minds and wringing stored tension out of the muscles.

Balancing Poses - Having a good sense of balance means more than being able to stand on one foot. While that physical feat is impressive, true balance in yoga means physical, mental, and emotional stability. Finding center and being able to remain steady while balancing will improve focus, relieve stress, and improve the ability to deal with difficult situations. Athletes can learn to approach their sport with this calm awareness.

Restorative Poses - Restorative yoga’s main aim is to normalize and neutralize the nervous system through extreme relaxation. Normalizing the nervous system is highly important for athletes. After hours of grueling training, an hour of absolute relaxation can be a game-changer for athletes.

Savasana - This posture brings a deep, meditative state of rest, which may help in the repair of tissues and cells, and in releasing stress stored in the body. This posture leaves athletes in a state of rejuvenation. It helps reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and insomnia. Savasana is an excellent way to ground the body and give time for the yoga practice to sink in at a deeper level.

So now that you know some of the many poses that can benefit athletes, come on out to Joy Yoga Center and take a class with us!

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