Why Every Athlete Should Do Yoga

With its focus on balance, flexibility and coordination, yoga can be an extremely beneficial addition to any athlete’s workout routine.

Indeed, some of the world’s top sports stars are already embracing the benefits of the ancient practice — including football players like Victor Cruz and basketball star LeBron James.

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“Yoga isn’t just about the body, it’s also about the mind, and it’s a technique that has really helped me,” James told the Cleveland Plain Dealer back in 2009.  “I had some lower-back problems a few years ago and once I started to do the yoga, it has helped them go away.”

Yoga is believed to help enhance your athletic performance, while also preventing injuries and treating muscle soreness or tightness. Think about what you, as an athlete, need to work on in terms of your physical and mental fitness. Are you looking for mental strength to help you tackle unpredictable and challenging situations? Are you hoping to increase your core strength, balance, flexibility and range of motion? Do you want to relax and unwind after a rigorous training session?

If you have answered, “yes” to any of these questions, then yoga may be the perfect cross-training activity for you. Your trainer can help you select the yoga poses that are most suited to your physical fitness level, but here are a few forms of yoga that may benefit athletes the most.

For Beginners: Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is the most common form of yoga, and is an apt yoga style for beginners, because it consists of a series of gentle poses that are easy to execute. For yoga newbies who aren’t familiar with the poses or who don’t consider themselves to be very flexible, Hatha yoga is a great way to get started.

For An Advanced Workout: Power Yoga

Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is a subset of Hatha yoga.While the latter style of yoga is mild, the former includes a series of poses that are carried out in a fast, fluid sequence. Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is often known as ‘Power Yoga’ or ‘Yoga Flow’ due to the nature of the movements and is great for athletes who are looking to keep fit during rest days.

For Sore Muscles: Hot Yoga

Are you ready to turn up the heat and take your workout to the next level? Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga, will challenge any ideas you once had about yoga being “easy.” Bikram yoga is performed in an extraordinarily warm studio (35–42 °C ) and will make you sweat like never before. The aim of Bikram yoga is to cleanse your body by releasing harmful substances through sweat production. It also expands lung capacity and loosens stiff muscles, which is excellent for athletes.

For Recovering: Iyengar Yoga

Injured athletes can turn to Iyengar yoga for recuperation and recovery. This yoga style focuses on gentle and gradual stretches that strengthen and align your muscles. Props, straps and other support equipment can be used to make it easier to perform the poses.

More and more professional sports teams and athletes are turning to yoga as a way to enhance their performance. Try adding two or three yoga classes a week into your training regimen and you may notice a difference in your athleticism and recovery.