Yoga is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise, and it is popular among people of all ages and abilities.
Not only do newbies enjoy yoga, but so do people with injuries and even the elite athletes. It is also a great cardio for seniors who are looking to stay fit and healthy.
When it comes to athletes, you may be wondering what type of yoga is best for them and whether yoga is at all beneficial for their role.
Luckily, we've covered all that here. This guide looks at the best yoga for athletes, why it is helpful and if there are any potential problems – along with some of the most burning questions answered regarding yoga and athletes.
So, if you want to know more – read on!
Do Athletes Practice Yoga?
We have to start at the very beginning because some people may be wondering – do athletes even do yoga? The answer is yes.
In fact, many professional athletes practice yoga as a part of their training regime. It helps them stay healthy, strong and flexible.
They also use it to improve their performance in sports like football, basketball, tennis, etc. It's no wonder that they're practicing yoga regularly!
What Types Of Yoga Are Best For Athletes?
There are different types of yoga out there and each one has its own benefits. Which ones should you try? Here are the top three:
Hatha yoga is the most common form of yoga practiced by athletes. It is a great yoga for flexibility as it focuses on stretching muscles.
Ashtanga yoga is another great option for athletes. It’s a slow-paced workout which includes lots of poses and breathing exercises.
Vinyasa Flow Yoga
Vinyasa flow yoga combines both Hatha and Ashtanga styles. It works your entire body while focusing on breath work and movement.
How To Do Yoga Properly
Before you can start doing yoga, you need to make sure that you follow certain rules. This doesn't matter if you're an athlete or a beginner.
Here are the most important things to remember when practicing yoga:
Don't Forget About Your Posture
If you don't keep your spine straight, you won't get the full benefit from your workouts. Your back needs to be straight and aligned properly. You can check this by looking at yourself in the mirror.
Keep Your Eyes Open
If you close your eyes during your workout, you'll miss out on a lot of the health benefits. By keeping your eyes open, you'll see how far you've progressed and will be able to focus better.
This means paying attention to everything around you. It's easy to get distracted when you're exercising, but you must remain focused.
Paying attention to your breath will help you relax and calm down.
Make Sure You Warm Up
You should always perform a light stretch before starting your workout routine. Stretching loosens tight muscles and gets blood flowing throughout your body.
It's also good to take a few deep breaths before getting started. Breathing deeply will boost your energy levels and give you a positive mindset.
It's important to drink water throughout your workout. If you feel thirsty, then you're already dehydrated.
Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration because you can risk injury, and as an athlete – this can mean serious implications.
While working out, you shouldn't let stress get in the way of having fun. Enjoy every moment of your workout, and you'll find that you enjoy it much more.
Yoga Benefits For Athletes
Now that we've discussed what type of yoga is best for athletes, here are some of the benefits that come with it:
Many people suffer from anxiety and depression due to high pressure jobs and stressful situations.
These conditions can cause tension headaches and other physical problems. These exercises are fantastic for stress relief!
But yoga helps you deal with these issues healthily. It teaches you how to control your emotions and improve your mental state.
When you practice yoga regularly, you'll notice that you sleep better. During your workouts, your mind is relaxed, and you have less trouble falling asleep.
It can also help resolve muscle cramps or pain which can lead to a better night's sleep – which is a huge health advantage.
When you do yoga, you increase your heart rate and blood circulation. This increases oxygen intake and makes your brain function faster.
As a result, you'll be able to work harder and last longer than usual.
For athletes, this is a gold mine because this assists with them trying to reach the heights of their game. The harder and longer they train, the better they should be.
How To Fit Yoga Into Your Fitness Regime
There are many ways to incorporate yoga into your fitness regime and this is ideal for athletes. Here's how you can fit yoga into your normal fitness routine.
Start With A Short Session
If you only have time to do one exercise, make sure it's yoga. Start off by doing a short session of 10 minutes. After that, you can extend your sessions if you'd like.
By starting slow, you can begin to look at how it fits in with your normal strength or cardio training.
Add In Some Restorative Postures
Restorative postures are great for relaxation and recovery after a hard workout. They allow your muscles to rest and heal while you focus on breathing and meditation.
These are perfect for those who want to add yoga to their regular regimen.
Do It At Home Or On Vacation
You don't need to go to a studio to learn about yoga. If one of the reasons you are not practicing yoga with your normal exercise program is because you don't attend a gym for your training, you can do it at home with your normal exercises.
This will give you the flexibility to do it when you have free time. You can even take your mat along with you on vacation, so you can continue your practice.
Practice Every Day
The key to incorporating yoga into your fitness plan is consistency. Athletes know all about being consistent, and they will definitely agree with this.
To bring yoga into your daily routine and exercise plan, you have to be consistent with it. Start slowly and gradually do it every day.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Type Of Athletes Benefit The Most From Yoga?
Athletes who are looking to build lean muscle mass, lose weight and get stronger will benefit the most from yoga. Here’s why:
- Yoga for core strengthening
- Yoga for boosting metabolism
- Yoga for reducing body fat
In terms of sports, most athletes will see benefits from yoga, so there's no real answer to who will benefit the most or for what sport.
However, for flexibility and endurance, along with core strength – perhaps the athletes who reap the most benefits could be:
- MMA fighters
- Ballet dancers
- Mat athletics
- Martial artists
Yoga can also be performed with cardio workout for runners who are looking to up their stamina.
Of course though, as mentioned – pretty much every athlete will benefit from yoga.
Are There Any Downsides To Practicing Yoga?
Yes, there are some downsides to practicing yoga. However, these are minor and easy to overcome.
Your Knees May Hurt
It takes time to become flexible enough to perform certain poses correctly. This means that you may experience knee pain during the first few weeks of practice.
It Can Also Cause Back Problems
Some people find that they develop lower back issues when they start practicing yoga. These usually disappear once the person has gained more flexibility.
There are times when you might feel stressed out. When this happens, you should avoid practicing yoga. Instead, try taking a break and relaxing.
Are There Any Famous Athletes That Do Yoga?
Yes, famous athletes like Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and many others practice yoga.
How Long Should I Practice Yoga Before Trying Out A New Pose?
If you are new to yoga then it is recommended that you begin by doing simple stretches and basic poses, even if you are an elite athlete.
For example, if you're just starting out, you could start with something like the standing forward bend pose. It's a great way to warm up before you move onto more advanced poses.
When you're ready to try out a new pose, make sure to use caution and follow instructions carefully.
Can I Do Yoga To Recover From An Athletic Injury?
Absolutely! If you've been injured while playing sports, you can still incorporate yoga into your recovery process. You can also use yoga to help prevent injuries in the future.
You can do several types of yoga postures to help heal yourself from injury. "Downward Dog", for example, is an effective thigh stretch for sore muscles. Other yoga poses that you can do include:
- Cobra Pose
- Cat/Cow Pose
- Child's Pose
- Half Moon Pose
- Pigeon Pose
Be sure to speak with your physician and personal trainer (if applicable) about what yoga to perform when recovering from an injury.
Yoga can really help athletes up their game and there are many poses that can help them achieve it. If you are an athlete, consider some of our suggestions and reap the benefits!