Yoga for Athletes—Improving Performance Using Cross-training

yoga

Yoga might not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to improving performance, but you’d be surprised at just how beneficial this form of exercise can be to athletes. This applies no matter what field it may be; football, tennis, boxing—you name it. But how does yoga improve performance, and is it worth doing for athletes?

Well, let’s find out. Here’s how and why yoga can be used to improve performance for athletes in a wide range of different sports.

Reducing Injury

One of the most significant ways that yoga can benefit athletes is by reducing the likelihood of injury. Yoga involves getting into and maintaining poses that we normally wouldn’t be in—this improves flexibility and strengthens tendons and bones in a different way than regular exercise.

This even applies to yoga poses for beginners—many of the poses target muscles, tendons, and bones in a unique way. The result is that you are much less likely to get injured when you get tackled awkwardly in football or when your ankle moves in a strange way in soccer.

The advantages of being injured less frequently are obvious. No one likes being injured, and it could save you months or even years of pain and rehabilitation. But it’s more than that; being injured less can actually make you a better athlete.

Having fewer injuries and being injured less frequently means you can spend more time playing, practicing, and honing your craft. Athletes who manage to avoid getting injured usually fare much better than their injured counterparts—this is why high-level athletes like LeBron James spend millions each year on recovery and injury prevention.

It will take a while to see the results, but it’s going to be more than worth it in the long run. From just a few months of yoga, you will start to notice fewer vulnerabilities, fewer pains, and an increased ability to get tackled or fouled without getting injured.

Managing Stress

Another way that yoga can improve performance is by reducing stress. Everyone knows that stress is a silent killer. Not only can it wreak havoc on your mental health over the long term (which can also significantly affect performance), but it can also affect your physical health and tarnish your performance.

When you are stressed, you are more prone to injury, make worse decisions, have reduced physical capabilities, and much more. Over the long term, stress in itself could ruin your chances of becoming a successful athlete.

There are many ways to combat stress, but one of the most effective is through yoga. Time and time again, yoga has proved to be an effective stress killer, with a huge number of its practitioners doing it for stress reduction alone.

This is because the slow nature of yoga can be a release for many people, almost acting as a form of meditation. If you want to take things a step further, there are forms of yoga that are designed to be meditative, but any style will do.

Either way, just as you’d understand the types of sports betting before placing bets, you’ll want to learn about the different forms of yoga to find out which one appeals to you the most.

Enhancing Flexibility

Last but not least, practicing yoga can enhance your flexibility. On top of just reducing injury, being more flexible can directly improve performance in some cases. For example, let’s say you are playing basketball and you are about to dunk, if there is a defender blocking your way, you need to be able to contort your body to get over him in just the right way to make it through.

Or, let’s say you are playing football, if you are grappling with an opposing player to try and stop him from making a run, being able to generate power from non-ideal angles or positions can be incredibly important. From doing yoga, you may be able to create resistance in positions where most other people would be unable to because you are able to use your body more efficiently.

There are many benefits of cross-training that people are aware of, but few people understand how being more flexible can directly improve performance. It can make all the difference, especially at higher levels where every athlete is skilled.

Well, there you have it, you now know how yoga can be used to improve performance for athletes. To most, hearing that yoga can be beneficial even for contact sports like MMA or football can seem almost delusional. But this isn’t the case, and the more you know about injury prevention and cross-training, the more sense it makes.

If you are an athlete yourself and are interested in using yoga to boost your performance, just remember to start off slow. While you may have a good level of fitness in your respective field, you likely lack the flexibility to perform some of the more advanced yoga positions. So, just make a start and start off small. You will soon see the benefits. Good luck!