Four ways Yoga can Benefit Sports People
Unveiling the Hidden Benefits of Yoga for Sports and Fitness Enthusiasts - By Chloe Markham
Reading time: 4 minutes
Yoga is often ubiquitous with older practitioners, calm meditative practices, or an overwhelming level of flexibility. But I’m a massive advocate for yoga being more than the sum of its over-used stereotypes, and a part of that is understanding how yoga - especially the physical asana practice - can be hugely beneficial for sportspeople, or anyone who participates in a sport or other fitness activity.
If you’re a cyclist, runner, Crossfit-enthusiast, footballer, or someone who throws themselves around in another interesting way, this post is for you. Here are my top four ways yoga can benefit you and your chosen sporting discipline:
1. Flexibility, but not as you know it
Taking weight-lifters as an example, that strength gained from the effort of lifting heavy things is an amazing benefit, but the end result can often be chronic inflexibility. And it’s not just about the ability to touch your toes being a good thing, but flexibility can also mean the strength itself will be more accessible and easier gained. You’ll also get injured less and have a great range of movement. If nothing else brings you to yoga, let it be this.
2. Variation to strength
It’s a not-often-spoken-about benefit of a strong vinyasa or Ashtanga practice, but you’ll absolutely gain strength from a regular yoga class. We always have to find a balance between strength and flexibility in yoga, as with everything, because one without the other more often than not leads to injury. A good yoga practice (think: a strong and accessible vinyasa, hatha, or Ashtanga like you can find at The Yoga Revolution) can be particularly wonderful at strengthening your core amongst other things, and what other movement discipline doesn’t benefit from a stronger core? You’ll also work on strengthening muscles your other movement activities might miss out on, keeping your body in balance.
Perhaps an obvious benefit of yoga, balance has huge benefits to your other movement routines. With a stronger ability to balance, you’ll be less likely to injure yourself, more able to cope with falls (and less likely to fall in the first place), and good balance really helps stabilise muscles and joints, making yoga a perfect addition to your movement practices.
Injuries happen, that’s almost inevitable, especially when we’re moving in all these different ways. But, find the right teacher and the right balance between the effort and ease in your yoga practice, and you’ll find your body springing back from injury quicker and more efficiently.
I hope this convinces you, whatever sporting or movement discipline you’re into, to get on the mat. It really is an amazing tool for keeping us healthy and capable.