Most people are familiar with yoga, especially when you consider the number of yoga studios that have popped up around the country in the past decade. Most associate yoga with relaxation, yet, the benefits of yoga far exceed this, as it provides an intensive body workout that is extremely beneficial to athletes.
If you’re not convinced, take a look at ourtop 3 reasons why yoga can improve your athletic performance.
Yoga asanas (postures) provide a good stretch to the muscles and joints, thereby improving overall motion. But, why is that important? As an athlete or active individual, you are far more susceptible to injury, particularly, an overuse injury- repetitively engaging in the same movements, incorrect exercise techniques or pushing your performance limits, which can cause significant stress on the muscles and joints. If you regularly play a particular sport, such as tennis or golf, it’s likely you’re engaging in a repeated motion (i.e. golf swing), which can cause the muscles to tear. Yoga is able to stretch the muscles and joints in such a way that the impact of such physical stress is less damaging. Although you could easily do static and dynamic stretches, the difference between yoga and stretching is that yoga focuses on breath work. Deep breathing helps penetrate your muscles deeper, resulting in a better stretch.
Recent research provides tangible evidence of yoga’s dramatic effects on the brain. Researchers have found that individuals who regularly practice yoga have enlarged brain regions and an overall increase in brain volume. Regions with noticeable improvements included those dedicated to vision, attention, memory and the mental map of the body. So how does this benefit you? As these regions increase in volume, they are increasing in brain cells, which results in better information processing and thus, better performance. Therefore, as an athlete you can expect higher performance and better concentration by incorporating yoga into your training ritual.
To an outsider, yogic exercises don’t seem like they provide much more than stretching. However, yoga is extremely beneficial in strength training and there are many poses that position the body to better increase muscular endurance. To prove this point, the American Council on Exercise released a 2005 study, which found that following eight weeks of Hatha yoga practice, participants dramatically increased their number of push-ups and sit-ups compared to those that did no exercise. That’s pretty impressive. The concept is pretty simple, because yoga involves using your own body weight to train. Yoga also targets muscle groups that might be overlooked in conventional training.
At Bayview, we’re offering an amazing yoga class this coming fall. In addition, our tennis department is offering a Tennis and Yoga event that provides players with an opportunity to learn effective poses to improve their tennis game.