yoga for sportspeople - where to start?
In my last blog we looked at how you can get the most out of Jeff's series; Let's Chill - An Introduction to Yoga, including how to build your own routine using the postures available in the Chill section.
This week we are going to look at how a different type of yoga can be beneficial to sports people.
So what are the benefits of yoga?
There are an increasing number of athletes using yoga as part of their training program. Earlier this year Alex wrote a blog about professional athletes who use yoga, including Ryan Giggs, the England cricket team and American football team the New York Giants.
So why would athletes want to use yoga as part of their training? Well firstly, yoga helps to improve flexibility, which means that you can generate more power, making you faster and stronger. It also helps to reduce the chance of injury and improve recovery time, the importance of which is often neglected by athletes. And finally, it helps to calm the mind and lower stress levels, which is important for any athlete - after all how often does it come down to mental strength in sport? As Al Pacino says in Any Given Sunday "Sport is a game of inches".
OK, but I play a tough, contact sport...
Sportspeople of all types can benefit from yoga. You may think it's a bit too 'airy fairy' for you and that your time would be better spent training hard in the gym, but there's more to taking care of your body than just eating well and training hard. Your body needs time to recover, and how much of what we do is actually powered by the mind? Well, in a word - everything! So yoga has a big part to play in our lives both on and off the field of play. And this is evidenced by the ever-increasing number of professional athletes and sports teams that use it regularly and indeed credit yoga with raising their game.
So can you afford not to include yoga as part of your training? It might be the thing that gives you the edge over your rivals.
Jo herself is an athlete and has worked with all different types of sportspeople, including a professional rugby team and Olympic weight lifters so she knows what she's talking about! As she tells us in her Introductory video, she drinks vodka and eats meat, so if you had a yoga stereotype in your mind, think again!
So where to start?
Whether you have a specific area you want to concentrate on, or you just want to give it a go, there's a posture for you. Each posture can help with a specific area, so choose the ones that are most relevant to you. Once you've tried those and realize how great they are move on to the rest and create a routine.
If you haven't done yoga before, Child's Pose is a good one to start with as it's simple but surprisingly effective.
- Child's pose (spine, shoulders, hamstrings, back, hips, ankles and groin)
- Sphinx (spine and chest)
- Seated forward bend (leg muscles, particularly hamstrings)
- Reclining big toe (spine and legs)
- Twisting lunge (spine, shoulders, hamstrings, back and hips)
- Downward facing dog (everything!)
- Fire log pose (lower back, shoulders, hips, groin and glutes)
- Legs up the wall (relief for tired and/or cramped legs and feet and backache)
And don't forget that all yoga postures help to calm the mind and release stress.
So when should I do yoga?
Some athletes like to do it in the morning before training, whilst others do it in the evening after training. It really depends on what works best for you, but there's certainly no 'right' time to do yoga. You may want to include some postures as part of your cool down, and you can because you can do yoga anywhere, anytime!
If you don't have much time on your hands just concentrate on the area of the body that you feel needs attention, maybe you had a leg session in the day, so picking a few leg specific postures would be useful for recovery. If you can spend a bit longer then select four or five postures that concentrate on different areas to give yourself a full body stretch.
And how often should I do yoga?
Some athletes do yoga once a week whilst others do it everyday. As it helps aid recovery it would be beneficial to do it after every training session.
You can't do 'too much' yoga, it's just about finding what works best for you.
I heard the way you breathe is important in yoga...
Yes it is, how you breathe is crucial to getting the most out of yoga. Deep calm breaths focusing on the areas of the body that feel tight. This video from Jeff explains in more detail.
Our yoga for sports series is simple to do and can easily fit in around your current training plan.(If you don't have one then check out Shane's videos for a good place to start!). And with benefits such as a calmer, more focused mind, reduced chances of injury, improved flexibility and shorter recovery times there couldn't be an easier way to up your game, and it's all free so what have you got to lose?!
Be sure to check out the example routine at the bottom of this article and if you have any questions get in touch , we'd be glad to help.
Good luck and enjoy!If you want to receive more quality content like this straight into your inbox every fortnight sign up for our free newsletter (in the black box on the left) - and of course we will never share your details with anyone, ever :-)