Benefits Of Yoga for Athletic Performance
Even the most intense yoga routine doesn’t compare with something like interval training. The point is not that yoga can replace conventional training, but rather how it can enhance it. By improving not only flexibility but also posture, body mechanics, and awareness, yoga can make every form of training you do more effective and efficient.
A regular yoga practice can give you the following and more:
Power, strength, and speed are directly related to proper body mechanics: when our body is properly aligned, we can transmit force much more efficiently and perform better across the board. Whatever your sport, by returning your body to its optimal alignment, yoga can help you reduce power leakage in your deadlifts and cleans, improve running gait and efficiency, and help you punch, jump, or throw more explosively.
By opening the body’s posture, yoga significantly increases respiratory capacity; in fact, many have improved their asthma and other respiratory conditions through regular practice. Obviously, this is invaluable to athletes. Yoga has also been proven to dramatically enhance circulation, digestion, and efficiency of motion, which all further improve energy and endurance.
Along with opening the body, yoga builds greater body awareness, including balance, stability, and proprioception. As a result, not only is performance enhanced but our training becomes far more efficient.
Better Injury Prevention:
The one thing that stalls progress even more than inadequate training is an injury. By improving body mechanics and awareness, yoga dramatically reduces the risk of injury, both in training and competition, in turn increasing competitive longevity and allowing more consistent progress in our sport.
A little-appreciated but significant benefit for athletes is improved recovery. By enhancing circulation and lymphatic flow, yoga not only increases strength and endurance but also allows muscles to process metabolic by-products more quickly, powerfully speeding healing time and re-growth.
Finally and perhaps most important, regular practice dramatically enhances our clarity and focus. Why does this matter? What distinguishes the Olympic champion from the ‘also-ran?’ – The MIND. Practiced regularly, yoga can give you the awareness and mindfulness you need to take both your training and your performance to the next level.
The list goes on and on...
In addition to the above, yoga has been clinically proven to improve immune function, balance hormonal balance and improve stress management, all extremely beneficial to athletes.
So you can see why so many professionals have come to consider yoga every bit as indispensable to their training as strength or conditioning.