Many people start yoga because they are feeling stressed out and need something to help them relax. While yoga can definitely help to calm the body and mind, it also has many other benefits that can help people to reach the next level in their chosen sport.
Here are some of the benefits of yoga that you may not realise…
Whether you are a runner or a bodybuilder, continually pushing your muscles to the limits can make them tight and short. Yoga focuses on lengthening muscles and releasing areas of tension. When you hold a yoga pose such as a forward bend, you are allowing the muscle to stretch and release which in turn lengthens that muscle. Increasing your flexibility through yoga will prevent injury and help to increase performance in your sport.
Many people who have never tried yoga before have the perception that it is all about breathing and relaxing. However, yoga has many strength-building benefits as well. Each yoga pose targets a different group of muscles which, when held for a period of time, start to increase strength and build and tone the muscles. This can have great benefits for those who require strength as part of their training.
Having the correct posture whether you participate in combat sports, cycling or powerlifting is crucial to performance and injury prevention. During a yoga class when you hold poses it allows certain muscles, such as the hip flexors, to loosen and release in order to allow you to maintain a good posture. Unlike fast paced sports, yoga provides to opportunity to slow down and focus on getting the correct alignment as well as focusing on how to body feels while holding a pose.
Yoga encourages us to focus on what is happening in the present moment and let go of other thoughts that may pop into our head. This is so that we can slow down and be aware of how we are feeling both mentally and physically rather than always thinking ahead or worrying about the past. During a yoga class there are several opportunities to do this. Firstly, during the breathing practice at the beginning of the class. Then while holding postures to enable us to notice how we are feeling and to relax the muscles being used. Finally when we come into relaxation (Savasana) we are invited to completely relax and let go, leaving all thoughts behind to fully focus on the breath.
This can help in endurance sports such as long distant running and triathlons because during these sports we need to remain focused on our breathing to enable us to continue for long periods of time. If we let our mind wander we can begin to doubt our ability or lose our pace, so yoga can really help in this area.
Pranayama is a practice in yoga that focuses on controlling the breath through breathing exercises and techniques. These practises encourage you to lengthen the breath, which over time can increase your lung capacity as well as helping you to keep calm and stay focused. This is useful for all sports as it helps to keep up your energy levels, keep you calm and focused and prevent you from becoming out of breath. The benefits of yoga pranayama on your training make it definitely worth starting!
Overall, yoga can aid in all sports in various ways. No matter what your regular sport is, by adding yoga to your program you can increase strength, flexibility, endurance and performance. The more you practice yoga along with your sport, the more benefits of yoga you will find.
During our 5 day fitness retreat and bootcamp you will participate in daily yoga sessions. This is designed to help you relax as well as recovery from the fun workout sessions during the day.
For more information about our yoga sessions or about our fitness retreats, click here.