How Yoga Can Benefit Athletes

I originally wrote this for a guest post on Bodeefit.com.  Since Bodeefit got a bit of a restructure and no longer features blog posts, I knew I didn’t want this great information to be lost into internet thin air!

I’ve actually been teaching a high school football team since I finished up Yoga Teacher Training.  It has been a great experience for me to learn and has also really benefited the players.  Not to mention they’re undefeated…it must be the yoga.
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While anyone can reap the benefits from a good yoga session, athletes in particular are starting to realize just how beneficial it could be for their training. Whether you’re a professional athlete or just training for your first 5k, yoga can prepare you both physically and mentally. We saw it with our 2014 Super Bowl Champs, the Seattle Seahawks. They credited weekly yoga to be a significant part of their training. Now more than ever more and more professional athletes are starting to integrate yoga into their schedules. Here’s why:

How Yoga Can Benefit Any Athlete

  • Strength: Believe it or not yoga isn’t just sitting cross legged in a quiet candle lit room. Most yoga poses require an incredible amount of strength. Before yoga I had very weak upper body strength. Yoga and many chaturangas later, I can challenge any male to a good ol’ push up contest.
  • Flexibility: You don’t have to be flexible to go to yoga, but going to yoga will make you more flexible. A flexible athlete will have the upper hand on their competition. To be flexible makes you more resilient and gives you more options. Imagine a soccer goalie who couldn’t separate her legs or a football player who couldn’t bend over to reach the ball?
  • Recovery: Athletes put a ton of stress on their bodies. Football players take constant hits, hockey players spend entire games hunched over, and the knees of runners take continuous hard impact. Many sports put athletes bodies in unnatural positions that over time can be taxing on the body. The primary goal of yoga is place your body, particularly your spine, back in it’s natural state.
  • Focus: Any sport takes an impressive amount of focus. Focus doesn’t just happen, you have to consciously work to hone your mind in on one thing. Getting the ball from one side of the field to the other requires a state of mind free of distractions. In yoga, you are constantly reminded to focus. On your breath, on your body, on what is happening in the here and now. This doesn’t just happen. It takes work and determination in order for a person to cultivate this state of being. Yoga give you the time and space to practice being focused.
  • Stress Relief: Training for any sport is stressful, whether with a team or as an individual. There are expectations given to you, records to break, and activity after activity packed into your schedule. Yoga carves out time in your day to let go of all of this “stuff.” Expectations, schedules, and pressures all go out the window. It helps clear your mind and take a moment to re-set.

Have you found benefits from yoga in any particular training that you do?

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6 Comments

  1. I wrote a similar post a few months ago! I have found that there are so many benefits of yoga for athletes! I wrote about mostly what you said, but also that it gives you something to do besides your specific sport/activity. I think that is important both for the body and the mind!

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