You can find countless case studies of athletes who came to a full recovery from injury through yoga practice. Yoga therapy is a growing method of physical therapy for injury recovery and injury prevention which now widely recognized by Western medicine – it’s also a great method for injury recovery, but also helps with post-workout recovery time. After a vigorous workout, athletes often have sore, energy-depleted muscles. Practicing yoga on a off day, or recovery day can help move energy through the body and relieve what could have been several days of muscle soreness, with a few poses and some breathe work.
1.) Injury Prevention.
During training athletes experience stress on their bodies and repetitive overuse of certain muscle groups will cause imbalances in their body. Tight muscles will pull at the ligaments and joints and if an athlete takes a fall, muscle tightness will most likely puts them at a greater risk of tearing due to the muscle’s inability or lack of flexibility. Pliability and flexibility in the muscles can prevent injuries. Yoga is designed to work the muscles around the joints for stability and full mobility and rotation in the joints, making an athlete’s movements more fluid.
2.) Body Awareness
If you continue to practice yoga, chances are you’ll get pretty well acquainted with your body…You’ll start to discover your imbalances in your body and start to understand your body a little more than knowing your threshold. This understand will of your anatomy/body mechanics will aid you with balance, injury prevention and mindfulness.
When we come into a balancing pose such as Tree pose we stack our bones and align our body. As we do this we discover our weaknesses in our body as well as our strength. Yoga allows us to see where we have been compensating and helps us to find symmetry. You may notice that that balance in tree pose is easier on your right foot versus your left.
4.) Mental Focus.
Yoga is breathing exercise and an opportunity to be present. In a yoga class, students listen to the teacher and then translate the information into our bodies by respecting limitations. Practicing yoga allows us to be present and to focus our minds on our breath and body. When we can learn to observe our minds and its patterns we can start to remove obstacles that would otherwise hold us back if we weren’t conscious of them. Does this sound familiar during a race?! Mind over matter – your body will go where your mind takes you! Dig Deep!!!
5.) Stress Relief.
Yoga teaches us how to calm the mind, breathe easier and settle the nervous system while faced with stress and physical challenge. Yoga is often referred to as the “moving meditation”. Since training and competing can increase stress, not only on your body but also our mind, it’s important to be able to perform in a way that does not feel stressful. Yoga is a great practice before and after any competition.
About the Author
Ai Sullivan is the founder of Giving Tree Yoga. Ai was raised in Japan. She was introduced to yoga in the early 90’s through meditation – her love for yoga grew and she started teaching in 2006 after attending teacher training with YogaFit in California. Giving Tree Yoga was created because of her desire to give back to the community through yoga.