Yoga for Sports

If you thought yoga was just for lycra-clad ladies and flower children, think again! Andy Murray, Ryan Giggs, the England cricket team… even the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team are all turning to yoga to increase flexibility, recovery time and mental focus, and decrease the chances of sport-related injury (particularly over-use injury).

But these aren’t the only benefits. Athletes who add yoga to their training regime also report better strength, core stability, balance,co-ordination and … People often find their sleep improves, which is great in the midst of a heavy training schedule or in the build up to a big race or competition

IMG_20150922_130534I have lots of experience in teaching people across a variety of sporting fields, from cheerleading to climbing, rowing to horse riding. I also love to teach runners and cyclists – two groups of sports people who can really benefit from yoga due to the linear nature of the movements they need to perform. I know from personal experience how beneficial yoga can be to a marathon training schedule, how it can help re-balance your body after asymmetric activities like rowing and how it can help you conquer a mental challenge – like my white-knuckle fear of the outdoor swim scrum in triathlon!

Whether you’d like tuition as a team – which is great for bonding – or you’d prefer to work with me on an individual basis to help reach a particular sporting goal, yoga can enhance your training in two ways:

Active recovery – Typically involving a light work out or a rest day, active recovery is an effortless way to fit yoga into your schedule. Stretching and relaxing the muscles encourages blood to flow to broken-down muscle tissue, enhancing recovery. Getting in touch with your breath enhances oxygen intake, also improving muscle function and reducing muscle fatigue, ‘stitches’ and asthma symptoms.

Cross-training – Whatever your sport of choice, it’s like you rely on the same muscle groups to perform a repetitive movement. This can cause muscle tightness – what makes a sport massage feel so good. However, problems arise when muscles get so tight or over-used that they become prone to injury. The body recruits functionally similar muscles to help out, but if these muscles are under-trained they can also become damaged, resulting in injury time and enforced rest. By using a more active form of yoga as a cross-training modality, joints are kept supple and muscles strong and elastic. This leaves you less prone to injury and, as a happy side effect, the greater flexibility you’ll enjoy often directly improves your performance, for example extended reach in swimming, climbing or rowing or an improved swing in golf.

One of my sporting heroes, Ironman triathlete and international endurance star Rich Roll (not a yoga teacher!), wrote a really great article for MIndBodyGreen about why he thinks yoga is so important for sports people…. click here to read it.

If you like what you hear and are interested in group lessons for your sports team or club, please call Sal on 07554 441776 or e-mail saldrifts@gmail.com. If you’d like to know more about our public ‘Yoga for Athletes’ class when it becomes available, click to join our mailing list below. We look forwards to meeting you soon!

 

 

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