Have you ever wondered how decisive yoga can be for an athlete? Do you want to know how this practice so closely linked to the mind-body connection can improve your performance? If the answer is yes, we will tell you all the keys that will help you understand that the benefits of yoga for athletes are inexhaustible and will have a major impact on your performance and your enjoyment of the physical activity.
Why is yoga good for athletes?
The benefits of this practice are already popularly known. But yoga did not settle in the fitness world until a few years ago and that is good news because its benefits are incredible.
Wondering if yoga builds muscle? If you’re asking about those giant iron man muscles, the answer is no. It doesn’t build the kind of muscle that generates free weight lifting.
But it does stimulate every muscle in your body, in a much more complete way than you might think at first glance.
That and many more benefits we’ll tell you about below.
If you achieve a good regularity in your yoga training, the different asanas (which is the way to name the postures) will help you increase your strength and tone your muscles. You will find that the exercises will improve the activation of your core area and will not just give you any strength, but a balanced and functional strength.
Among the benefits of yoga for athletes balance has to be among the main ones. Better balance means greater control over the way you move. How does this translate to your performance? You will have better technique, therefore you will be much more efficient and less prone to injury.
Particularily for riders, balance is one of the most important skills to master so no question on how this could be of help.
Yoga undoubtedly improves the flexibility of your muscles and joints. This increases range of motion and is reflected in more efficient movements, with less risk of injury and more ability to exert force.
As an athlete you must make quick decisions, in milliseconds, and yoga can also help you achieve this. How? Through breath control.
It sounds like an exaggeration, but believe us, it’s not. Managing your breathing will allow you to improve your concentration and focus. Just what you need to think clearly and be prepared to make fast decisions.
Not only that, you know how important it is to control your emotional states. For there is nothing better than the control and self-awareness of your breathing at the moment when your heart rate rises and you need not anxiety affecting your performance.
In many sports it is indispensable. Several scientific studies confirm that yoga is able to improve aerobic and anaerobic endurance.
You are probably wondering how, if it is not an aerobic discipline. The answer lies in the yogic breathing techniques, or what in this discipline it’s called pranayama.
These exercises expand your rib cage, give greater flexibility to it, and allow your lungs to expand fully. Among the different types of yoga for athletes, ashtanga yoga and hatha yoga are the best for boosting your aerobic and anaerobic endurance.
Keep reading to know more about them.
Do you know what other extra benefit yoga has? You won’t need anything more than the floor, your own body and a mat.
If you want to start some yoga practice but don’t have the minimum equipment yes, here are some options on Amazon:
What type of yoga is best for athletes?
Any type of yoga is highly recommended for your body and mind if you do it with the right techniques and have a guide in your training.
But if we talk about yoga for athletes, some modalities will bring you one step closer to reaching your goals.
This type of yoga is ideal for beginners. You will learn the basics of yoga through poses and ways of breathing. As a sport lover you will get many benefits, but the first and clearest will be the increase of your lung capacity.
Were you looking for a physically demanding yoga? You have found it. Here the movement is constant and the postures will help you work on your balance, one of the most important skills for an athlete.
The sessions are intense and will also give you a higher level of strength and flexibility.
If you are one of those people who enjoy dynamics and movement this is your type of yoga. More specifically Rocket Yoga, one of the sub-branches of Ashtanga Yoga will test you with its dynamic and fast style.
We recommend it because you will have to chain different postures where you will increase your strength and balance.
Let’s go with this one if what we are looking for is to re-learn correct posture habits and be aware of our body.
It is a very interesting option if you are looking to prevent injuries or if you are looking to not run out of gas in the tank when you practice your favorite sport.
Highly recommended for self-care during rest days. The idea here is to connect mind and body and be aware of your body’s needs, relaxing and connecting with possible pain points.
This modality will take you deep into the depths of deep physical relaxation in an in-between state where you are neither awake nor asleep.
At POWERING we like it because it can help you as an athlete to work on mental blocks, clear your mind and focus on your goals.
The Best yoga poses for athletes
It is true that yoga in its different modalities is full of postures that can help you improve in every way. But from our vision as physical trainers we are going to focus on some that are more effective.
Why is yoga hard for athletes? Because it often forces athletes to work on skills that typical training never helped them develop.
We have many more muscles than we usually don’t work in typical routines and yoga leaves them exposed.
Many see it as slow, boring, easy and not very applicable to sport. Others, on the contrary, look at the movements and think how hard it would be to do them.
The truth is that neither of these two visions are real and with these postures you can start to get into a discipline that will undoubtedly make you improve.
To start with a yoga classic. The sun salutation is a dynamic sequence of 12 yoga postures that form a single dynamic, fluid and synchronized exercise. There are many skills that you will bring into play when doing this exercise and you can adjust the difficulty levels according to your mobility to make it really challenging.
It is one of the sequences that we use more often in the POWERING App, because it strengthens and mobilizes the entire musculature.
The name of this pose already tells us what it is about. It is a posture in which strength is exercised, but also mobility, stability and fluidity.
Downward facing dog
If you want to gain spinal flexibility and at the same time imitate your pet, this is a good opportunity. Your entire posterior chain (shoulders, back, hamstrings and calves) will gain mobility, but what few know is that this exercise also strengthens your neck and abdomen.
Bend your knees at the level of your ankles, while keeping your thighs as parallel to the floor as possible. Your torso should form a right angle with your thighs. Bring your feet closer together to form a more forward stance. Breathe in as you raise your hands. This posture allows us to work the strength of the quadriceps, isometrically while correcting our body position.
Yoga for off-road athletes: Why and when to practice it
At POWERING OFFROAD we seek to bring you the best of each sport and adapt it to our training programs.
Yoga is a sport that we adopt as part of our preparation plans because it has a very positive influence on off road sports such as enduro, motocross and MTB.
Many sports like MTB involve very repetitive movements and this causes some muscle groups to develop, while others are barely active.
These imbalances are not at all ideal for the body of the rider body and can lead to injury.
Yoga postures will help you correct these imbalances by improving flexibility and joint mobility while making you stronger and more resilient.
That’s why we recommend including yoga postures in motion in your warm-ups and stretches.
It’s no use making the excuse that it takes too much time, because we assure you that in the long run you will gain avoiding weeks without being able to ride because of an injury or by going to kinesiology sessions.
Taking care of your body is never a waste of time.
One last tip: Try to practice different postures, especially in the week before a race.
If you are looking to go a step further and make your training more specific, download the free training app for riders and make the most of your favorite sports.