When you hear the term “performance enhancer”, you might think of steroids and supplements often used by top athletes. You may not immediately consider yoga. Why should you? Because adding regular yoga to your fitness and wellness routine can make your favorite sports even more fulfilling.
More flexibility = fewer injuries.Stretching is a key component of yoga, and flexible connective tissue is less prone to pulls and tears. I noticed that simple spinal twists greatly increased my neck mobility from an old injury, and snowboarding is so much easier when you can look over your shoulder without straining! The next-day stiffness and soreness were minimal at the beginning of the winter season and non-existent after just a few trips to the mountain.
Better balance means more (and safe) fun. Standing balance poses help strengthen your core and legs, and help give you the skills and confidence you need to navigate that technical mountain bike trail or hike rocky ridges in search of the perfect sunset. Summer sports like wake surfing and water skiing become much easier too!
Asanas lead to increased athleticism. A more fit physical body is not the only result of practicing yoga. The patience and control developed to perform flowing sun salutations, the soaring pride you feel when you finally master crow pose, and the confidence boost you get when you realize you know the Sanskrit names of your favorite poses add up to an “I’ve got this” attitude in other areas of your life, including sports. All these attributes are just as important as having supple and strong knees and ankles (also a great benefit of yoga).
Meditation hones concentration and focus.You may not have realized it, but when your sports coach told you to “visualize your course” or “plan your moves” they were using a technique similar to guided meditation in yoga. The ability to control your breath, slow your mind, and “see” your actions before you perform them is what makes top athletes successful.
Whether you are training for your next marathon or simply focusing on your health and wellness, yoga can take your efforts to new heights.