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Yoga for Athletes

Gain core strength, balance and concentration

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Updated October 01, 2012

Looking for a new way to get in your resistance work? You might be surprised to find that yoga makes a perfect companion for athletes of all sports as well as the ‘jack-of-all-trade’ fitness enthusiasts. Yoga can help you develop better a breathing technique while it improves your balance, flexibility, core strength, and endurance.

Benefits of Yoga for Athletes:

  1. Develop Deep, Relaxed Breathing
    If you participate competitively in sport or simply join the occasional fun run on a whim you are aware of the impact breathing can have on performance. Deep, relaxed breathing is the foundation of reducing performance anxiety and improving concentration. Yoga will help you develop a habit of breathing correctly. Yoga practice integrations the mind-body connection and athletes can benefit from this combination of skills training.
  2. Increase Core Strength
    Yoga poses are all about building core strength. The slow, focused movements require a strong mid-section and the isometric contractions of many exercises will add a new form of resistance training to your typical machine-based workouts.
  3. Increase Flexibility and Range of Motion
    Yoga routines incorporate slow, steady flexibility exercise that is ideal for athletes. Frequent yoga training may increase flexibility, and range of motion while relieving muscle tension. Whether you are a runner or a golfer, improved range of motion can often help improve performance.
  4. Improve Balance
    Yoga is a perfect way to incorporate balance exercises into your training routine. Balance exercises are often overlooked by athletes, but are one of the most effective ways to correct muscle imbalance or body mechanic problems. With most sports and weight training routines you tend to perform repetitive motions that develop some muscle groups while others are ignored. Yoga can fix these imbalances.
  5. It’s Great Cross Training
    Yoga is a great low-impact way to cross train. Cross training is necessary for athletes who do the same sport or exercise routine year-round. Adding new exercises can help reduce injury, relieve training boredom, add variety and help recover from hard aerobic or strength workouts. Yoga can be done at a high or low intensity and there are hundreds of postures that can provide a workout for any athletic need.
  6. Something for Everyone
    There are many styles of yoga that range from very dynamic, active, movements that go from one posture to another (and result in a thorough aerobic workout) to more slow-paced practices that hold postures for several minutes and form an intense strength training and balance workout.

While yoga is an excellent exercise option, it isn't without risk. Be sure to review the Tips for preventing Yoga Injuries.

While much of the benefit from yoga practice is still based upon subjective feedback from participants, more research is looking closely at positive health outcomes from yoga. Studies reported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, [nccam.nih.gov] have linked yoga practice with decreased low back pain and less reported chronic pain from arthritis, headaches, and carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as lower blood pressure, heart, breathing rates, and reduced insomnia.

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