A well balanced yoga practice enhances ones athletic abilities and helps to prevent injuries. Here are a few benefits for those that adopt a regular yoga practice:
- Improves Flexibility: tight muscles are more prone to acute injury (strains and tears). Yoga moves the body through natural ranges of motion that if not accessed regularly, can be lost. Stretching after exercise helps your body process lactic acid.
- Improves Strength: holding a pose engages the muscles isometrically. Standing poses are especially good for strengthening the small stabilizing muscles of the lower leg while stretching the hip muscles, which leads to greater power in sports. Holding challenging poses teaches mental strength and prepares one for similar intense situations through the course of life.
- Improves Balance: one of the most effective ways to correct muscle imbalance or body mechanic problems is to improve balance. 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. Yoga also helps athletes find balance in their lives by learning to stay present and not constantly focused on the next goal.
- Injury Prevention: endurance athletes often suffer overuse injuries from repetitive movement especially when the body functions out of alignment. A well-rounded yoga practice will help bring the body into symmetrical alignment while correcting flexibility and strengthening imbalances in the soft tissues.
For more information on Yoga for Athletes check out The Athlete's Guide to Yoga by Sage Rountree.