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5 Yoga Practices For Young Athletes

Whether a seasoned athlete or an innocent bystander, the art of yoga is a gift that benefits everyone. People are moving towards yoga as a means of connecting with their mind, body and soul. Of course, the health benefits are the main reason why most people are making yoga a part of their workout routines.

As a result, yoga is also being incorporated by athletes in their training sessions. Yoga helps improve an athlete’s overall performance from endurance to strength to power and also ensures good health and overall well-being.

Yoga is an ancient tradition and has been found very helpful in creating a balance between the body, mind and soul. It helps in bringing peace to the mind and body and increases mental focus. This is the main reason athletes are opting for yoga in their training sessions.

Benefits Of Yoga For Athletes

Yoga is not a substitute for a workout routine. Rather, it is a healthy addition that reduces stress and helps you focus on the task at hand. Yoga cannot replace the conventional methods of training for athletes but, it can enhance those methods and the results acquired by them. It improves flexibility, body posture, body mechanics, strength and overall concentration. Some of the benefits of yoga are:

  1. Increases power: your body can utilize its optimal strength, only if your body mechanics are perfect. Yoga works wonders on body alignment and flexibility. With improved body mechanics, you are able to utilize your maximum strength. After incorporating yoga into your routine, when you run, throw or punch, it will definitely have an added kick.
  2. Improves endurance: through a number of poses, yoga opens up and improves the respiratory system. It also affects the digestive, circulatory and immune system. They all, when combined, improve an athlete’s endurance and stamina.
  3. Better balance: there are poses that target and improve the ability to balance one’s body. It also helps in improving concentration.
  4. Better injury prevention and speedy recovery: yoga improves concentration, balance, strength and flexibility. These help in preventing injuries, which are a nightmare in the life of an athlete. Yoga also improves circulation and lymphatic flow which help in increased strength, endurance and speedy recovery from injuries.
  5. Improves focus: the most important thing in any athlete’s performance is their ability to focus. Yoga improves focus. The more focused an athlete is on his/her goals, the better he/she performs.

Yoga Poses For Young Athletes

Yoga is beneficial to all of us in many ways but for young athletes, the following yoga poses contribute positively to a variety of factors that improve performance. They can bridge the gap between mind and body; helping youngsters become better competitors both physically and mentally.

1. Downward Dog

The downward dog is an excellent asana on its own. Stay in this pose for 1-3 minutes by bending your knees to the floor with a rest in child’s pose. A posture like this one elongates shoulders, strengthens hands, wrists, lower back and hamstrings and also stretches them. It also strengthens the Achilles tendon and the calves. It also helps in relieving headaches and insomnia. 

According to Elizabeth Manejias, MD, a physiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, downward dog is a great way to strengthen the upper extremities and build bone density. It is ideal for soccer players as it focuses on the calves as well as shoulders.

2. The Lunge

The lunge is a lower-body compound exercise that works on the thighs and buttocks. Since the exercise is weight resistant and not cardiovascular, it can be easily incorporated into a routine. 

The primary goal is to increase muscle strength and can be performed with free weights or body weight only. After you have completed one set of 12 lunges, allow your body to rest for one full day before increasing to a second set.

This pose strengthens the quadriceps and glutes. It also stretches the hips. It is ideal for basketball and football/soccer players as it focuses the areas that get most involved in these sports.

3. Bridge Pose

For this pose, lie down on your back. Place both your feet on the floor hip-width apart. Place your hands such that you can touch the back of your heels with your hands. As you inhale, lift your hips upwards.

Bridge pose aims to calm the mind and is known to be therapeutic for all individuals; especially young adults. Performed 5-6 times each week and it can open the chest, increase lung capacity – particularly beneficial for those with asthma.

The pose also stimulates the abdominal organs and thyroid glands which improves digestion and helps regulate metabolism. It also strengthens the glutes, hips and hamstrings that help in almost every sport – particularly football, soccer, karate and kickboxing.

4. The Plank Pose

The plank is truly a foundational yoga pose. By teaching you to hold yourself together – like a sturdy wooden plank – it gives you the power you need for other complex poses and the grace to glide with ease through transitions between poses.

Plank also builds your abdominal strength, arms and keeps wrists supple and healthy. Upon practicing this pose every day in the morning for at least a minute, your upper back and neck posture will improve.

It is essential for building strength and balance for all sports.

5-Yoga-Practices-For-Young-Athletes-pin5. Backbends

A routinely 1-4 minute backbend stretch every day can be invigorating and strengthening. They stretch the hip flexors and open the shoulders, an area where many of us hold tension. It helps build = strength in legs, arms and back muscles.

With the increase in mobility, posture can be improved, alleviating a variety of neck and back pain.

Backbends are also responsible for opening our hearts to the world. It exposes our body while building more of it. Overcoming our fears on the mat can give us courage off the mat too.

Young athletes can incorporate these beneficial yoga poses in their workout routines to strengthen their bodies, improve endurance, boost confidence and be more focused on their sport. If you are new to yoga, take a yoga retreat, you will love it!

Table Of Contents

Katherine Hurst
By Kamil Riaz
Kamil Riaz is a Writer and Digital Marketer. He has completed his masters in Administrative Science from the University of Karachi. As a writer, he wrote numerous articles on management, technology and health.

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