You’re probably curious about this thing called yoga. Many athletes have thought yoga is for people who don’t push themselves or aren’t athletic.
Maybe you’ve thought yoga is only for people who are flexible or have incredible balance and coordination, perhaps former dancers.
Maybe you’ve even tried yoga but found it lacking in some way. But, you’re here now, exploring how yoga can benefit you as an athlete.
So why should an athlete do yoga?
Incorporating a regular yoga practice (1-2 times a week) into your athletic training can give you great benefits.
For athletes, yoga provides an opportunity to stretch and rejuvenate overused and tired muscles. It also allows athletes to bring balance to their bodies by incorporating poses (asana) that strengthen underused muscles.
Yoga will help you gain flexibility in your body as well as in your mind. Specific breathing techniques (pranayama) can bring awareness to the breath, which you can take into races or competitions. Allowing the mind to be quiet can elevate your ability to stay focused and achieve success.
“Endurance athletes spend countless hours training their neuromuscular and metabolic systems in an effort to increase their endurance so that they may race efficiently for extended periods of time. However, the hours spent using their bodies to swim, bike, and run can often lead to injury and burnout.” — Kellye Mills, a USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach, a Level III coach with USA Cycling, and a RYT 200 hr certified yoga instructor
Here is top triathlon coach from the U.K. Jack Maitland (trains the Brownlee brothers) talking about the benefits of yoga for endurance athletes. “The thing that makes the big difference is the way we do the breath.”
And here is yoga teacher and model Tara Stiles talking about why athletes should incorporate yoga into their training.
Remember, yoga is not a new fad or craze. It has been around for about 5,000 years. But it is new in the West. And its popularity continues to soar as people realize the health and wellness benefits it provides.