Are you a basketball player, tennis, football, baseball, or soccer one? Maybe you’re into MMA, boxing, rock-climbing, or extreme sports – and you still think yoga is for hippies? Well it’s time to get hip to the fact that yoga is fast becoming the training regiment for high-end pro athletes like the NBA’s Lebron James, or the NFL’s Russell Wilson. Why? Because nothing stretches you out, increases your flexibility, calms you down, and helps you to focus better than yoga. Weights and treadmills are only a piece of the pie that go into baking a fully functional, high-octane athlete. A piece that’s becoming smaller and smaller each day, as more and more athletes are discovering the multitude of benefits associated with a dedicated yoga practice. So whether it’s Ashtanga, Hatha, Kundalini, or the ever popular hot yoga – they all serve to take your game to the next level. Not convinced? Then check out the following 5 main reasons why adding yoga to your training is not only a bonus – but an absolute must!
It Increases Flexibility
Making that big catch, or splitting the lane for that massive jam is not just a result of being able to squat 400 pounds in the gym. It’s also because you have the flexibility to maneuver through a mob of defenders, coming out the other side for a score. And while everyone’s concerned about adding that next plate to the rack, few consider just how much more flexible they can really become. Well, when it comes to those who practice the ancient art of yoga, no one’s more limber and flexible. So the next time you drop those dumbbells, see if you can touch your palms to your toes. If not, get the to the yoga studio, posthaste!
It Prevents Injury
If you’re like most athletes, you’ve suffered a torn knee or rotator cuff a time or two. And what do they focus on in rehab after surgery? Those tiny stabilizing muscles that surround the joint. Well yoga is designed to strengthen those tough to work muscles, often neglected by most modern gym and weight workouts.
It Makes Visualization Easier
Every athlete talks about being “in the zone”. That headspace where all you see is the play with such extreme focus, completing it seems effortless. But as science has shown, these moments often come about because the player spent the night before visualizing it. So if visualization is the key to being in the zone, then there’s nothing quite like yoga to calm your mind, so you can focus with the utmost precision.
It Helps You Rebound
No, we’re not talking about getting more boards in basketball, we’re talking about learning to manage the roller coaster of emotions that come with a long season of sports. The ups, the downs, the upsets, the setbacks – the best players know how to rebound from a loss. Players such as Larry Bird or Michael Jordan were said to have had the worst of memories, because they never thought about the last play, much less the last game. They just lived in the moment and moved on. And being present in the moment is the very foundation by which the practice of yoga was built.
It Lets You Unplug
Whether you’re a pro athlete constantly bombarded by fans, media, and hateful Twitter tweets – or just an amateur in it to win it – you need to be able to unplug from the noise. The weight of the world that you brought to the game, the inner critic that’s telling you how much you suck – these are all things yoga helps you unplug from, getting your mind back to where it needs to be: the game.
How To Get Started
Now that you’re convinced about the benefits of yoga, you don’t need to book the next flight to India and confine yourself to an Ashram for the next 6 months. That’s too extreme, and the very antithesis of yoga. Yoga’s about balance. So start with that in mind by adding just one or two yoga practices to your regular training program each week. In fact, research some local studios and see which ones offer classes specifically designed for athletes. Trust us, your body – along with your coach and win-loss record – will thank you for it.