Yoga has undoubtedly become a part of our culture. Wherever you go, the mention of yoga commands acknowledgment and respect. Sadly, however, a lot of people still think that yoga is plainly synonymous to ‘stretching.’ Worse, some people believe that stretching is everything when it comes to practicing yoga.
What these people do not know is that yoga is actually a great activity, as it covers several aspects of our lives. Yes, Yoga is not just stretching, even though it is one of its facets. As a matter of fact, when yoga is practiced correctly, it can do tremendous things in boosting your athletic performance. For instance, let us consider six ways in which yoga boosts athletic performance:
1. Improves Injury Prevention
This is something that is not magically done by yoga. Rather, this serves as a result of continuous training using this technique. Yoga works on improving body awareness and mechanics, thus reducing any risk of encountering an injury, especially when training. We understand that injuries can have a dramatic impact on progress. On the other hand, yoga increases the competitive longevity of a person, thus enabling for more constant improvement in this technique. Several activities involving athletics, such as running, cycling, swimming, and others, require repetitive motion. This utilization of energy and muscle power may eventually lead to overuse injuries as well as muscle imbalance. By performing different types of yoga poses, tight muscles are opened up, thus correcting any muscle imbalance or poor mechanics of the body. By failing to address these concerns and issues, they may lead to injuries.
2. Improves Overall Endurance
When it comes to performing any athletic activity, endurance is a factor that either makes or breaks a performance. With yoga’s opening posture, your respiratory capacity is improved. This will help you last longer with whatever activity you are doing, whether it is during your training or an actual competition. Yoga has been proven to significantly improve other processes within the body, including digestion, circulation, as well as the efficiency of motion, all of them further improving endurance and energy use. Aside from physical endurance, yoga also targets mental endurance. Through yoga training, you can harness your concentration and endurance. These factors are important especially when you need to push your body to its limits, such as during competitions. Yoga introduces different meditative techniques which can also help you deal with negative thoughts effectively so that you can concentrate on achieving your goals.
3. Increased Overall Power
Strength, speed, and power are all interconnected and are related to appropriate body mechanics. When the entire body is aligned correctly, we can expect to transmit force more efficiently, thus performing more effectively at the very moment we need to. Regardless of the sport that you are engaging in, by practicing yoga to return your body to its alignment, you can reduce so-called power leakage, thus improving all capabilities significantly, helping you jump, punch, throw, or do other things more explosively. Different yoga poses require you to be in a particular position which can engage your muscles while supporting your entire body weight at the same time. Through the use of your body weight to strengthen and build muscles, you can also fuel up your power. As you experience an increase in power, you can now do more things. This translates to other added benefits including fat loss, increased bone density, as well as improved metabolism.
4. Better Focus
Regular practice of yoga plays a vital role in dramatically enhancing focus and clarity of our minds. This is frequently observed in athletes who are considered successful in their sport through consistent training. This kind of quality training can only be achieved if you have better focus. Yoga can give you the mindfulness and awareness that is needed to take your performance and your training to a higher level. With better focus, your mind is also set on achieving your goals, thus prompting the body to move according to this focus. This is also one of the reasons why even non-athletes practice yoga. The focus is something that we need in our everyday life. As yoga enhances focus, you can be assured that you are not just conditioning your body strength, but also your mind’s overall capacity to manage the entire body.
5. Elasticity of Muscles
As we age, we can become less and less flexible. It may be caused by several factors, including genetics, as well as other factors contributed by the environment. The good news is that several yoga poses were designed to lengthen and stretch the muscles. This is done by pulling them apart. Through time, this will help in improving elasticity, thus leading to an overall improved flexibility. Keep in mind, however, that this is something that doesn’t happen instantly. It may take some time, and several yoga sessions before muscle elasticity and flexibility are achieved. However, there is no other way of training your muscles to be elastic than spending time with techniques that focus on this goal. Others refuse to start yoga because they feel that they are too stiff for it. However, if you think of it, would you still need the stretching benefits of yoga if you are already elastic and flexible?
6. Faster Recovery
Whether you are training for sports or see yourself in an actual competition, the energy used by your body will take its toll later on. With yoga techniques, such as the breath work strategy, or pranayama, you can give attention to your breathing. Breathing the right way will help your body relax and loosen tight muscles. By being more relaxed, you can do more in your athletic performance. At the same time, this will play a huge part in your recovery. Since Yoga promotes body awareness, your body also becomes aware and prepared for any future strenuous use of energy that it may expect soon. After the event, it will lead the body back to a relaxed state, thus promoting a faster recovery. Indeed, yoga has permeated deep into our lives, covering different aspects of our culture and well-being. To understand further how yoga works and what its benefits are, understanding the origin of yoga and how it all started is a good place to start. Do you feel that your current training plan is not enough? Are you looking for a good way to boost your athletic capabilities? Why not train your body’s performance and capabilities through yoga?
About the author
Szymon is the founder of Love Meditating lovemeditating.com, a meditation-yoga blog dedicated to provide honest advice and information. He aspires to help his readers achieve inner peace and tranquility, sharing personal tips learned through both years of experience and thorough research. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.