Try Yoga to Enhance Your Sport

I instructed a yoga class for a high school football team last week. A bunch of the teens didn't want anything to do with yoga. I guess they thought it would have no benefit to them and I think they felt embarrassed to be out on the field in plain view practicing yoga.

The guys that stayed had an open mind to a point, but mainly had the idea that this was an easy workout and they were humoring the captain by taking part.

We started with some sun salutations. It was a steamy hot day with the sun blaring, but from what I could see during the warm-up these guys weren't very flexible. I wanted to warm up their muscles so we could get into some stretching. We worked on standing poses and upper body strengthening, balancing and then some core work. Then we went into some deep muscle stretching and finished with relaxation ~ lying on the field and watching the white puffy clouds float by.

Being sport specific, these guys need it all. It is just the beginning of their season and I am sure they will be working hard. My goal was to give them an exercise practice that would help them recover from their workouts, gain some flexibility and strengthen their core to help avoid injuries.

The complaints began.... This isn't easy....wait, which foot? .... I can't reach my toes....and then the realization started....look, I can reach my toes now.... Is this right? As we worked through the practice they paid closer attention and complained less. At the end of relaxation I told them we could practice again if they liked it and I heard... let's do this every Friday.... let's do it before every game.

The point here, I guess, is that they gave Yoga a chance and it helped them. They realized it wasn't a girlie thing that they should be embarrassed by. I know, they are teenagers. So as adults what benefit will yoga have for you?

Do you golf? Then you are probably out of balance from swinging that golf club the same way all the time. Yoga can help with lower back strengthening. Repetitive motion of swinging the same way all day puts your body out of balance. Balancing poses help to correct that imbalance, as do the standing poses. Side stretching and twisting (both ways) also helps with the imbalance while keeping your torso flexible enough to follow through with your swing.

Do you play baseball or softball? Those explosive runs can be hard on your body. Again, swinging the bat in the same direction and throwing with the same arm over and over. Are you the catcher? You need some core strength to squat down and up so many times. You think about the leg strength but if you don't have core strength you are not taking care of your lower back.

Tennis? Side to side, explosive reaction; one shoulder gets more repetition. Volleyball? Jumping; explosive running short distances.

Are you a runner or a biker? Your continually work the front side of your body but the back side is left out. Usually runners are tight in the hamstrings and sometimes in the calves. You need to stretch those body parts out to bring some balance back into your body.

The flexibility and the core strength that yoga provides can help with all of these sports. Many people are tight in the shoulders - especially athletes. More flexibility means more safe range of motion. With any sport and for any person yoga promotes muscle recovery. We always feel better after we stretch out those sore muscles.

Are you open to trying something that will enhance your sport? Take a yoga class. Have an open mind and tune in to your body to see if you gained any benefit, during the practice and after. Many professional athletes practice yoga - maybe you should too...

By Kathi Duquette
Certified Yoga Instructor
Certified Personal Trainer
http://www.basic-yoga-information.com

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