Yoga For Athletes Training:
Yoga for athletes training? Can this really be a thing?
Of now, you’ve probably started to here about the touted benefits yoga has, both physically and mentally. Yoga can be a great style of exercise to stay fit and flexible, for any average person with a 9-5.
In fact, yoga has even been studied for it’s many potential benefits. For example, helping people create a better-mind body connection, even helping aide in pain relief (like easing arthritis symptoms). Furthermore, helping reduce stress symptoms, and helping with overall “energy level and brighter moods”, according to an article published on Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Truth is, people all around the world can benefit from the practice of yoga. Indeed, this includes athletes who are training! The calm and flowing poses associated with yoga (on the surface) may seem contrary compared to intense athletic training. However, they may fit better then you think.
The Institute of Yoga for Sports Science, has become a great reference for discussing many of the ways yoga can be brought into sports and athletic training. Not just from the physical stand-point, but the standpoint of focus, calming nerves, and the shear power of the breath. We’ll be referencing some of there findings throughout this post.
Yoga For Athletes Training!
Improved Flexibility, Balance & Strength:
As an athlete, flexibility is important for your training. For example, flexibility allows for greater range of movement, flow, strength, and often decreases your risk of injuries. Better flexibility may just equate a higher upside within athletic training, and sport in general.
Oftentimes, when yoga is brought into the arena of athletic training, it focuses on joint and muscle flexibility. Increasing these aspects of flexibility is great for all kinds of sports, not limiting itself to just one genre. This can include anything from basketball to marathon running, golf, even bodybuilders.
Hopkins Medicine discusses the efforts of slow movements and breathing. Furthermore, aiding in increasing blood flow throughout the body, as well as warming-up muscle groups. This can be beneficial both before and after a training session. Many of the poses, this article exclaims, also helps to build strength. Yoga is multidimensional, versatile, and benefits many aspects of the self.
Here is another interesting blog post. “Why Athletes Who Practice Yoga May Have the Advantage This Olympics” over at The Institute of Yoga Sports Science. The article exclaims that one of the benefits “minimal sports-specific yoga” can provide, is exposing athletes to different paces and tempos to their regular training. Thus, leading to these athletes working with less strain, and moving with less effort.
Another referenced article at The Yoga Institute of Sports Science, discusses an approach to core strength outside the realm of simply doing crunches. Furthermore, discussing the need and ability of yoga maneuvers to target 5 different core muscles for stability, which you can read more about here!
Yoga has been a centerpiece in studies looking at how it can aide in balance and flexibility. Like this published study in 2016, which compared athletes in a 10-week program. One of which was a “yoga group” and one was a “non-yoga group” measuring performance levels. Results indicated that their were significant gains in flexibility & balance in the YG from start to end of the program. Significant gains in joint angles, also were releveled. The study concluded that not just flexibility and balance improvements were seen, but whole body measures of college athletes.
According to a controlled clinical trial published in 2015, a growing number of research studies have showed Hatha yoga (a specific style of yoga practice) can lead to improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness and “muscular strength“.
2. Helps Increase Energy And Focus:
There are theories surrounding yoga and energy. One theory behind the ability of yoga to enhance both energy and focused concentration lies within the basis of the practice itself. Yoga is about moving in a controlled manner. These asanas then flow into different positions. Simultaneously, the practitioner is attempting to relax the body through rhythmic breathing efforts, as well as developing and understanding awareness of bodily sensations, as they progress.
There is a unique mind-body connection, which may help contribute to bettering cognitive functioning such as attention span, and in general, concentration.
Additionally, University Health News discusses the ability of yoga not just for physical benefits, but to help practitioners with focus, attention and memory.
Other research suggests that the yoga practice “seems” to be associated with moderate improvements in cognitive function. This information was attained from a meta analysis of acute studies and randomized control trials of yoga and cognitive outcomes.
Both yoga and meditation have shown to improve brain function and energy levels. The specific study of reference was out of the University of Waterloo which compared the acute effects of Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation on executive function and mood. Findings suggested that acute bouts, benefit executive function and mood “to some degree”.
3. Muscle/Body Endurance:
What all athletes want, more endurance. Thus, allowing them to practice or play their sport at a higher level, longer!
In fact, certain asanas have been studied to investigate their benefits on physical fitness. For example, Sun Salutation. The purpose of one study was to look at the effectives of this asana on muscle strength, & general body endurance. Significant increases in endurance, shown by push-ups and sit-ups were found.
A 12-week Hatha yoga program reveled results suggesting this form of yoga produces benefits in cardiopulmonary endurance and muscular endurance.
Other studies have been conducted comparing endurance, flexibility and strength of sedentary individual’s to post-yoga programs. One such study carried on for 8-weeks, practicing yoga twice/week for 180 minutes total. As one may imagine, all areas of fitness (tested) increased, including endurance.
As you may imagine, we have just touched on a few of the vast benefits yoga can have on all individuals, athletes in particular. Other benefits may include, faster recovery times, decreasing risks of injury, cardiovascular health, weight loss, even becoming a more mindful eater.
Yoga may be just “what the doctor ordered” if you are an athlete looking to take your training to a new level.
Please be sure to share any of your experiences with yoga for athletes and training, on our blog today!