Yoga and the Athlete

Spring is finally here and the sunshine and warmth of the outdoors beckons.  As you break out your tennis racket and golf clubs, don’t forget your yoga mat.
Yoga offers so many benefits to both our bodies and our minds that more and more people are finding their way to a yoga class.  What was once crunchy and “out there” is becoming mainstream and trendy.  Along the way, a new group of people are finding their way to the yoga studio.  These people are looking for a way to complement and contrast their high intensity sports or training.  A regular yoga practice can improve posture, balance, strength, and flexibility while improving kinesthetic awareness and core stability, leading to better performance in sports.
 “To prep for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games… a number of elite athletes are practicing asana, pranayama, and meditation as a means to prepare body, breath, and mind for medal-worthy performances. From vigorous Ashtanga to gentle restorative and Yin Yoga practices, many athletes say that doing asanas gives them not only looser hamstrings but increased body awareness and mental focus. Some have found that pranayama practice has taught them to be better breathers during race time and has been an effective tool for calming pre-race jitters. Meditation is touted by many as an antidote to the fear and nervousness”  Yoga Journal, February 2010
While all styles of yoga and asana are beneficial to the athlete (and the non-athlete too), personalized yoga sequences can be beneficial to runners, golfer, bikers, swimmers and athletes. Stretches focused on the tight hamstrings runners can improve comfort, performance and avoid injuries.  Postures focused on core strength and rotation in the hips, spine and shoulders can improve the game of golfers, baseball and tennis players.  So add a few sun salutations to your warm up this spring…
Lauren Rose, LCSW, RYT is a psychotherapist in Rye, NY and founder of the Rose Center for Mind and Body focused on helping people to live stress-free, happy lives. T: 914.921.9100