06 Feb Unexpected benefits of Yoga for athletes
Ancient gift of Yoga has been in existence for the past 5,000 years. Yogis have thoroughly refined the fascinating science of living. Today, Yoga is popular more than ever before thanks to many popular sports who are also taking up Yoga as a part of training. Read on to reap the unexpected benefits of Yoga for athletes of all ages.
Yoga is a gentle form of exercise and by just adopting few lifestyle changes and being regular with a few Yoga poses in your routine can help your overall wellness and health goals in lots of unexpected ways.
The physical front- Yoga helps improve suppleness, stamina, balance and strength. On an active level, Yoga teaches you how to cope up with stress by nurturing a sense of easiness on both levels, i.e. during active as well as the passive postures.
Cerebral front in benefited- Yoga helps encourages mindfulness and shifting awareness to heighten the focus, thoughts, and sensations that are critical essentials for any athlete to achieve a good performance in any choice of sports he/she is practising.
Several kinds of research done regarding Yoga and yogic lifestyle are helping to uncover more and more benefits every day. Some of the unexpected benefits of Yoga for athletes are given below-
Yoga for athletes
There is a misconception commonly related to athletes; that they require power-based and challenging Yoga practice. This is not entirely true. In fact, most beneficial Yoga exercises that are necessary for demanding sports and athletes are stretching and meditative postures. These are great that help an athlete to achieve a much required balanced state of mind to excel at any sports of choice.
Many aspiring and established athletes have been doing Yoga in an integrated manner to achieve maximum results. Generally, dynamic stretching is done at the start since it warms up the body. Dynamic movements of Sahajbhava Asanas and Surya Namaskar are great warming-up exercises. Some of the Sahajbhava Asanas given below can be done by anyone no Limitations/ Contraindications people with reasonably good health can also practice it.
Gently, as you inhale, allow your head to drop towards your left shoulder without lifting the shoulder. Exhaling, bring it back to the centre. Drop it to the left shoulder, as above, and return to the centre.
Keep the hands by the side. Practise shoulder rotations by taking the rotation from the back, down while exhaling and then the front, upwards while inhaling. (This shoulder rotation can be done with each shoulder separately too.)
Clasp the hands in front of the chest; intertwining the fingers and palms facing the chest. Inhaling, stretch them outwards, parallel to the floor. Exhaling, bring them close to the chest.
Raise both the arms in front, at shoulder level. Inhale. Exhaling, bend the elbows and touch the shoulder with fingers. Inhaling, straighten the arms again. Keep repeating few times
Raise arms in front, at shoulder level. Close the fingers and rotate the fist–clockwise and then anti-clockwise.
Stand erect, gazing straight ahead. Tighten the knees and then relax it, alternately. Repeat few times.
Gazing straight ahead, balance the body on the left leg and lift the right leg up from the hips. Bend the right knee to keep the thigh parallel to the floor. Holding the right thigh up, point the toes outwards and then inwards, several times. Repeat for the left leg.
Abstraction Techniques for athletes
Abstraction techniques like Nishpanda bhava and Yoni mudra pioneered at The Yoga Institute help to calm and rejuvenate the senses. These methods help to improve the focus of an athlete immensely. Relaxation poses are best after a long and hard day of training. Shavasana is one of the best relaxation pose to practice. Shavasana helps achieve deep muscle relaxation.
Yoga is a preventive science, and one of the major unexpected benefits of Yoga for athletes is –injury prevention. Many common injuries experienced by athletes are Achilles tendon pull, groin, hamstrings, shoulders and calf muscle pull. Yoga advocates prevention is better than cure. Yoga infuses a great sense of awareness and is a great tool that can be adopted as per individual need.
Of course, here Yoga does not claim to cure or prevent specific injuries such as concussions and ACL tears (an Anterior Cruciate Ligament or knee injury.) But one of the main reasons for sports-related injuries to the hamstrings, hips and calf muscles, and in some sports, the shoulder muscles is because they are overworked and without adequate stretching and lengthening of the muscle groups and thus the chances of injuries are bound to increase.
The Yoga Institute has pioneered many techniques that when done properly with correct breathing practices helps improve the performance of an athlete immensely. Techniques such as Yogendra Talasana, Yogendra Vakrasana, Yogendra Pascimottanasana, Yogendra Utkatasana when done correctly with Yogendra breathing methods help improve mind, focus and movement harmony. The relevant muscle groups are exercised, and chances of injury are reduced.
Unexpected benefits of Yoga for athletes are many
- Yogi Lifestyle – Yogis advocated healthy routines such as early to bed and early to rise. Yoga is particularly useful to the athletes since the body needs adequate time to rest and repair. Body is a great tool when used correctly. Healthy habits are a good foundation for better performance. Correct food habits or Sattvic diet advocated since it is easy to digest and conserves the body systems and functions.
- Enhances performance- Yoga is preventive and kriyas such as Jalaneti, trataka etc. helps in keeping the body and the senses free from disease and enhances performance. Improves focus and concentration
- Prevents and reduces sports-related injuries – Yoga advocates prevention is better than cure.
- A balanced approach – Yoga works on the mind, body and spirit level. Yoga helps infuse a balanced approach to everything in life. A successful athlete is a person who is balanced. Yoga is for everyday living at the Mind, body and spirit level.