|Yoga for Athletes|
David has competed in countless obstacle race courses, marathons and triatholns and has found that no matter what sport you compete in, be it biking, golf, surfing, hiking, tennis, running, etc, any athlete can benefit from yoga. If you are serious about becoming the most capable competitor possible, adding yoga to your training regimen can help you achieve your goals, regardless of your sport or if you consider yourself a weekend warrior or a pro.
FLEXIBILITY, INJURY PREVENTION AND RECOVERY
Most athletes use a stretching routine of some kind. Yoga offers similar benefits to a typical stretching routine, to a far greater degree. The flexibility athletes develop from yoga can help them achieve better sport-specific performance; it also helps them prevent injuries -- particularly to especially fragile body parts, such as the rotator cuff and similar joints. The core and torso, in particular, can be difficult to stretch effectively, but many yoga poses -- including the bow and the cobra poses -- provide a good stretch for the chest and abdominal regions.
BALANCE, CORE STRENGTH AND MUSCLE STRENGTH
Most athletes focus their efforts on workouts and drills that are specifically applicable to their sports. This is good in that it helps them increase their ability to perform, but it can lead to imbalances of muscular strength and power in the body. Yoga can help correct these imbalances, leading to greater body stability and control and decreased risk of injury. The mountain and warrior poses, for example, can provide a surprising challenge for the muscles of the lower body, especially for the stabilizer muscles that may not be worked out as directly during ordinary workouts.
BREATHING, LUNG CAPACITY AND ENERGY LEVELS
Under the pressure of a fast-paced athletic competition, it can be difficult for even the most experienced and confident athletes to remember to breathe properly. If an athlete's breathing becomes shallow and erratic, his timing and accuracy will become unreliable. No matter how good his or her conditioning is, an athlete can quickly expend their lung capacity very quickly without proper breathing. Proper breathing, or "Pranayama," is one of yoga's foundational principles. Yoga will teach you the breathing process to promote the most healthy and effective breathing technique. The habits instilled through a regular yoga routine can help you make proper breathing second nature, no matter how much pressure you are under.
RELAXATION AND MENTAL PREPAREDNESS
The strain of participating in a competitive sport, no matter what kind, can be extremely wearing mentally and emotionally. The constant pressure to improve, to push yourself to get better and to perform at the peak of your ability, not to mention the tremendous crash and emotional letdown after a loss, can be exhausting. Yoga -- even when approached as a purely physical exercise -- provides an excellent means of relaxing, focusing and clearing your mind. The child's and corpse poses encourage you to slow down, clear your mind, and simply relax.
* portions taken from LiveStrong.com