How the consistent practice of yoga can improve your sport performance.
Yoga and sport may seem like an unusual combination but it is easy to see how marrying the two together can lead to immense benefits for the practitioner.
Yoga means union; union of the senses, body and mind. Through this simple definition we can see how becoming aware of our body, senses and mind and how to respond to those, will lead to increased sport performance.
A sport person’s game can be significantly improve through the practice of yoga. Yoga improves flexibility, mobility, strength & agility that lead to achieving proficiency in the given sport; by refining movement through poses (asana) we are refining skills to play and perform in the sport field.
But the practice extends beyond the physical body and the advantages of the practice for an athlete also do too. Mentally yoga helps with dealing with adversity and come to terms with whatever life throws at us, successes and failures and this is easily extended and applied to sport.
7 advantages of practising yoga for sport
Fitness is required to play sport, but acquiring brilliance in a sport is far more than your physical abilities. Yoga can also help address more than the physical aspects of your performance, from stretching & strengthening to focus & discipline, yoga will help you be a better athlete.
Even if you don’t see yourself as an athlete, yoga will help you prevent injury and in time with consistent practice become therapy.
By practising asana you will also discover clarity, courage, perseverance and gratitude. Through consistent yoga practice your mind will evolve with your body.
Flexibility is an asset to any sport as it ultimately increases your range of motion. Imagine trying to take long strides while running when your hamstrings are tight. Imagine a goalie that needs to leap to the side to catch the ball, he will also struggle if his adductors are “tight”; if the range of motion is limited by shortened muscles.
By doing yoga we methodically extending muscles safely to the full range of motion slowly increasing flexibility. Flexibility is in fact the very first “side-effect” you will notice after consistent practise.
With increased flexibility comes increased range of motion and therefore, without more power output, comes greated speed.
Yoga can increase your stride, but not only that, it will build the physical awareness you need to realise which areas of your own body hold you back.
By simply increasing your range of motion, practising yoga regularly will also give you the ability to gain more momentum through greater movement and hit that ball at greater speed also.
Sport definitely requires strength and endurance, but also tremendous physical and mental energy. The practice of yoga can help with all of these.
The practice of poses (asana) engages a multitude of major and minor muscles, something that exercising alone doesn’t.
Yoga also teaches you to engage muscles in such way that energy is not wasted, but it is utilised to maximum effect.
Agility is the ability for change the body position quickly and accurately; it is a very valuable skill in any sport.
While practising this skill physically helps, it is the actions of concentration and coordination that also occur and we cannot see.
You can bring the practice of agility into any yoga practice by allowing the mind to focus on the body, also known as, grounding and proprioception.
Proprioception is one of the primary features of a yoga practice and it allows the players that practice to develop a greater sense of where their body is or will be in space and time while they practice sport improving concentration, hand to eye co-ordidation and ultimately agility.
Sequencing asana, also known as vinyasa, and practising to movement is the ultimate way to improve agility in Yoga for Sport.
5. STABILITY & BALANCE
The regular practice of yoga poses lengthens and strengthens the leg muscles which in turn allows the player to remain stable and potentially standing on one leg while playing – kicking a ball is a good example of that.
6. FOCUS & CONCENTRATION
A momentary loss of attention may be the reason one loses a game.
Even for the hobbyists amongst us, we all know that by improving our focus in a sport we can improve overall.
During a yoga practice we exercise our ability to perceive and observe carefully. Starting from the body and the breath we slowly learn our capabilities and limitations.
It is this continuous focus and concentration required during a yoga practice that we can take to the field after improving our “game”.
7. INJURY PREVENTION
Certain injuries are of course an accident or simply bad luck, other occur by the underuse or overuse of muscles.
Doing yoga will neutralise the strain the body experiences while playing sport and in turn it prevents injury.
Asana when adapted correctly it can also address existing injuries obtained while playing sport.
In general yoga is a great way to discover your body’s abilities and your limitations.
The irony is that in those limitation, physical, emotional or psychological you will find growth and gain your “edge” in your game too.
So join us on the mat soon <3