Yoga & Sport

 
Sports yoga can complement many training and sporting activities for athletes by increasing strength, flexibility and balance. Physio Yoga is taught by a Chartered Physiotherapist so if you have a history of injury or pain we can help. Physio Yoga classes can become an integral part of any fitness training program or sporting activity. The postures and poses practiced in Yoga are beneficial for sports that require explosive activity or a precision state of mind, such as golf, running, basketball, GAA, tennis, rugby and soccer. Additionally, Yoga increases core strength, increases flexibility and range of motion, improves balance, assists breathing and is also a useful form of exercise for cross training (e.g as part of a marathon program).
 
Benefits of Sports Yoga
 
  • Yoga increases muscle flexibility. Yoga Stretches vary from very gentle movement to deep stretches working into the connective tissue thus releasing lactic acid that causes pain and stiffness in the muscle and joints. As a person continues with yoga practice, his/her body becomes more relaxed and in addition using deep rhythmic breathing, creates better body flexibility and increases the range of motion and mobility.
  • Yoga increases stamina with the use of Pranayama. Pranayama is the name given to the breathing practices utilised in yoga. In Sport, it is vital to use lungs to their full capacity and the yoga breath helps achieve this. The yoga breath circulates and detoxifies the lymph fluid to speed up recovery time. It also increases one’s overall energy thus boosting power and determination.
  • Yoga improves mental focus. To complete the circle, a person must have clear mental focus on their game and on their goals. Athletes who work on their psychological strength as well as their fitness levels definitely have the edge that makes the difference. Please see separate article on yoga nidra and sport.
  • Yoga increases body awareness. Body awareness is a very important aspect of yoga because yoga is movement and breath combined. When you come into a posture, you use your breath to allow adjustments to take place either to make the posture more comfortable or more challenging. The most important rule in yoga is LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Sometimes training in a specific sport can make you physically unbalanced as you work one side of the body more than the other and so body awareness is not achieved. Yoga helps you realise what movements come quite easily to you and what you need to work on.
  • Yoga helps in injury prevention & rehabilitation. Injuries occur because muscles become rigid; therefore other muscles compensate and can be overused. Again, yoga helps rebalance the muscles and so is the perfect tool to prevent & rehabilitate sport injuries.

The importance of correct breathing to improve performance in sport

Most competitive sports require high levels of aerobic performance over extended periods of time. For some reason, we take our breathing for granted and many coaches do not include any form of breathing techniques to strengthen the lungs and, more importantly, to maximise lung capacity. 
 
In Yoga, breathing is vital to the practice and all movement is in unison with the breath.  Among infants, correct breathing comes naturally and they use their entire lungs to breathe, but as we get older most people only utilise the upper part of their lungs.  Shallow chest breathing promotes early fatigue in athletes, affects their rhythm and their timing and inevitably their speed.  Once an athlete becomes aware of the power of breathing patterns, they can then use the breath to release tight muscles, to de-stress, increase lung capacity therefore improving performance in their sport.

 

 

 
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