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Benefits of Yoga for Sports Performance

Yoga has become a standard part of our culture. Most gyms offer it, there are studios popping up everywhere, and most of us probably know at least one or two people who practise. Despite its widespread popularity, it is still considered by many to be little more than stretching, or a hippie past time. However, it is much more than that. In fact it is now being used by elite athletes and pro teams as an instrumental addition to their training regimen.

If practised correctly, it can in fact improve every element of physical performance. From stamina to power to pace, while also encouraging general health and wellness.

The Athletic Performance Benefits 

I am at not suggesting that yoga should replace your regular training routine. Rather I am proposing how it might enhance it.

Yoga can help to progress your flexibility, posture, body awareness and range of motion, in turn making all other training more effective. Consistent practise can provide numerous benefits.

Better Range of Motion and Flexibility

Flexibility is a critical component of a balanced fitness regime that is often overlooked. Particularly by those who have tendencies to gravitate to strength-based workouts. A full range of motion around your joints is extremely important and necessary if you want to execute loaded movements. Additionally, the inclusion of joint stability and mobility work (through yoga) can also tackle prevailing muscle imbalances and allow for greater ease and proficiency when performing any activity.

Yoga is a complete workout for the entire body and thus provides you with a range of motion in all the joints of the body. Regardless of what sport you practise, we all have overworked muscle groups. It can help by strengthening the muscles that are not used enough and by releasing the overburdened muscles.

Greater Core Strength

Yoga is a great tool for developing core strength. From standing poses to twists, inversions and balance poses, yoga moves you through poses that demand balance and stability. The key to yoga is strength through flexibility, which requires a well-developed core.

There is still a misconception that core work is all about doing sit ups and crunches. However, you can engage your core in a number of ways and yoga is a great way of conditioning your abdominal region for movement and stability. Irrespective of the style you practise, there will be core strengthening poses. The raising and lowering of your legs, seated twists, even standing poses will work the muscles of the core while developing strength and stability.

Injury Prevention and Enhanced Recovery

As we all know injuries can bring our training regime to a grinding halt. Yoga can radically lessen the chance of injury, by improving both body mechanics and awareness. Many people actually start post injury as a part of their rehabilitation process. Paradoxically, yoga could have prevented the injury in the first place! Consistent practise can maintain healthy and flexible joints and muscles. Time invested in yoga should not be considered a treat, but rather an indispensable part of any training regime.

Additionally, yoga can be a perfect way to practise active recovery. Mobility is a great form of active recovery and can have huge benefits on performance and recovery. The mixture of stretching and releasing muscles encourages the blood flow to broken down muscle tissues.

Better Balance/Proprioception

Another benefit is an enhanced body awareness, including balance, stability and proprioception. This results in greater performance and efficiency in movement. A greater sense of stability can do a lot more than protect us from future tumbles. Better stability can lead to greater mobility, reduced injuries and an increased capacity to push harder!

Yoga Lets You Unwind

We are constantly on alert, thinking about what we have just done or what needs to be done. Moments of quietness and calm can give us the chance to mentally switch off and restore our much-needed energy and concentration. Practising yoga can not only help improve your sleep but it can assist us in learning how to disconnect.

Conclusion

Yoga can be extremely beneficial to your overall training, in addition to the physical benefits gained, there are numerous spiritual elements of yoga. The practise of yoga was developed in India thousands of years ago, initially conceived to bring balance to the body, mind and spirit.

Whether you are a football player, a boxer or a crossfitter yoga can provide multiple benefits to your training. Start off by adding one or two sessions a week. You can find your local studio, or even start off at home. There are a lot of misconceptions about yoga and it is often written off by people who think that is ‘isn’t their thing’! Try a couple of different types, and even teachers and you will hopefully find the right style for you! Personally, I actually started practising yoga after a big injury and have now found that not only do I really enjoy it (especially hot power classes!), but it has led to massive improvements in my all-round fitness! I now practise two to three times a week, along with CrossFit (and wakeboarding in the summer!)

Feel free to share your experiences with us here at Urban Surfer! Have you tried adding yoga into your routine?

Looking for some new gear? Head over to Urban Surfer and check out the great collection. I am loving Stance socks to keep my tootsies warm in yoga! 🙂

Stephanie Contomichalos

Stephanie Contomichalos is a sports enthusiast. She is an avid crossfitter, wakeboarder and has recently qualified as a Level 1 CrossFit coach. She is also an advocate for women’s sport and for using sport as a tool for development. She is currently living in Athens, Greece.

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