by Emily Various sports and activities work in a repetitive manner. The stride of a runner, the push of the pedals for a cyclist, the swing of a golfer, the swing of a tennis player and so on. Repetitive activities are doing just as the name implies, repeating certain movements over and over. In doing so certain muscles are contracting time and again and usually with very little counter movement. This effort can lead to imbalances in the muscle groups utilized during the sport as well as in related and/or neighboring muscle groups.
Yoga is about balance, both in the literal meaning (think Tree Pose) and in the balance it creates between effort and ease, contraction and then lengthening of muscles. If we honestly ask ourselves if we are stretching correctly and enough after being active the answer is usually no and that is often because we are not sure how to correctly counter balance the work we have just done. Within yoga there are great tools to create a healthy, balanced body. Yoga asanas (postures) create long, strong muscle fibers. Practicing yoga postures specific to your body's needs will help you open up the muscle groups that might be holding you back in your performance.
Beyond a healthy body athletes need a healthy mind as well. Having a healthy mind gives a competitive edge. In our yoga practice we learn tools of presence, mind/body connection, focus and how to breathe deeply and efficiently. All of these tools translate well into the world of sports. Knowing how to be present in the body, to detect sensations and to be aware of what areas of your body might need some extra attention at the end of your workout for the day, being able to breathe more oxygen into the tissues can all improve performance. All of these techniques can be used to help you stay active longer and avoid the common chronic injuries that can plague athletes.
If you or someone you know is a runner, cyclist, swimmer, golfer, tennis player, disc golfer, a tri-athlete, or even an iron man/woman, yoga can help you perform your best and reach your goals. Join us for our first yoga workshop designed for athletes: Yoga for Runners on Saturday, June 12th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. You can sign up for this workshop here!