Sports and yoga might seem like very different things and different ways to keep our bodies and minds healthy, I know a lot of sports people find the word yoga off putting, it’s weird, takes too much time. The fact is, yoga can help your sport in more ways than you realise.
Sports yoga has been proven to have positive results in a range of areas including injury prevention, mental strength and focus, breathing and emotional control, better body awareness, flexibility in muscles, protection of tendons and joints, quicker recovery leaving you relaxed and fresh for training and events.
Without going into too much detail, Sports Yoga can help you become more aware of your body, practise good alignment, breathe correctly. In short, yoga can make you so much stronger at your sport, whether that’s running, cycling, swimming, football, rugby or tennis and many more!
My sequences include protecting the knees in sport, keeping the spine long and young, using the body more efficiently, breathing more deeply. Research shows breathing deeply through the nose helps muscles to recover quicker.
A little Sports Yoga in your week will enhance you as an athlete as each session includes all of the components needed to be the best you can be at your sport – strength, mobility, flexibility, breathing, relaxation and rest. Every athlete needs these components in their life and in their training to keep the whole body in balance. A class lasts 60 minutes, you can then take the stretches/exercises away and practise them at home.
When you’re training, racing, working, dealing with life – your body is working in the sympathetic nervous system, when you’re focusing on yourself, focusing on your breathing, resting – your body is working in the parasympathetic nervous system. If you work too much in the sympathetic nervous system over time you will find imbalances, you always feel tired, you get injured, you get ill. Some percentage of your time needs to be in the parasympathetic zone and sports yoga helps you do just that.
I believe athletes need yoga and need to relax, I know from experience. Here’s a very simple relaxing breathing technique you can try anywhere, right here, right now even, is to breathe in for a slow count of 4 and breathe out for a slow count of 4. Breathe in and out through the nose.Try this for 10 breaths and notice how you feel. You were using your parasympathetic system just then!