Yoga For Athletes

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More and more athletes are discovering the different ways in which yoga can be used to improve psychological and physical performance and, consequently, sports performance.

Reasons why an athlete should Practice Yoga

Benefits Of Yoga For Athletes

The Yoga is an ancient physical and mental practice that has expanded worldwide thanks to its benefits as it ensures the balance between body and mind. For several decades it has gained popularity in the West, and the “yogamania” has experienced a boom in recent years because it responds to various problems of our time, including sedentary lifestyle or stress.

For many, it is not just a form of physical exercise, but a lifestyle that allows finding inner peace and that commits to the observation of healthy habits and proper nutrition. Yoga attracts, and that is why more and more people practice it. This is because it manages to integrate the breathing with the movement so that the mind and the body cease to be two autonomous entities and become one. Yoga allows you to reconnect with yourself, something that is difficult today.

Anyone can learn and practice this discipline that is also suitable for many athletes since it provides an improvement of physical condition, greater control of breathing and relaxation, an increase in flexibility, as well as a proper mental attitude that favors the state of flow and sports performance increases. Athletes who practice it gain knowledge about the connection between their mind and body, improve mental clarity and concentration, and are more prepared for the challenges they face.

The practice of yoga for athletes

For a few years, yoga has started to be part of gyms and sports centers in many places. Its benefits applied to both health and athletic performance are increasingly engaging athletes, both elite and those who train to improve their overall state of wellbeing or their physical condition.

Mastering the physical and mental challenges that yoga demands can be a discovery for many athletes accustomed for years to a different training concept because this practice is based on the principle of the integration of the body as a whole. This new holistic approach can reveal weaknesses and imbalances that had never been exposed before and integrated the physical and mental element that is so important during competition or training in sports.

Reasons why an athlete should Practice Yoga

But what causes can lead an athlete to want to add yoga to their training plan? What are the benefits of yoga that contribute to the improvement of sports results? Considering the information that the different researchers have provided in this regard, yoga improves sports performance for the following reasons.

Greater flexibility

When talking about yoga, the first thing that comes to mind is your asanas (postures). Therefore, it is not difficult to associate your practice with the improvement of flexibility. Asanas help us increase the ability to move muscles and joints through their full range.…

Reduce Stress

It is not strange that with the pace of life in today’s society many people suffer pressure, which in turn can cause psychological health problems such as depression, anxiety, mental exhaustion or hostility, which seriously harms the level of activation of athletes, relevant cognitive processes, and sports performance.

In addition, the very threatening characteristics of the competition or the environment of the athletes, also cause stress to be a reasonably frequent response in the life of an athlete, as stated by Jose Maria Buena, professor, and director of the Master’s Degree in Sports Psychology from the National University of Distance Education

Increase strength

Following a routine with different asanas in a habitual way increases the tone and muscular strength. The postures of yoga are maintained for long periods of time, which causes isometric contractions of the muscles, generating a gain in power.

A study published in the International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health showed that asanas strengthen the arms, shoulders, legs, back, buttocks and abdomen.

The same study concludes that yoga increases the strength of underutilized muscles in different sports disciplines such as swimming, cycling or running. These gains improve body stability and prevent injuries because yoga works to strengthen the muscle fibers that support and surround the muscles most used in these sports. This means that a more balanced and optimally functional global force is produced.

 Help in recovery

For optimal sports performance, training is as necessary as recovery. To avoid overtraining and to continue performing at an appropriate level, it is essential for athletes to understand that period of recovery after physical activity is fundamental. Yoga is a form of active rest, which means that, with their practice, the organism uses biological mechanisms and metabolic and cellular processes of tissue repair and generation of molecules, such as enzymes, which allow us to continue performing at a reasonable level.

Yogic breathing helps circulate and detoxify lymph, a fluid that travels through the lymphatic system, according to research published in the International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research and Development. This accelerates recovery by 15% after physical exercise and eliminates fatigue.

Greater Balance And Coordination

Yoga is different from other exercises since it generates movement without causing tension or imbalances in the body. Therefore, its practice is an ideal complement to various forms of physical activity and an advantage in any sportnow, how does this affect sports performance? More excellent balance and coordination mean better control of body movement, which is manifested by a more efficient technique.…

Improve The Mood

There are moods facilitating performance, and generate positive attitudes and emotions is a critical element in the proper functioning of each person’s sport. Serotonin (5-HT) not only has a positive effect on sleep but is also involved in mood regulation. In fact, low levels of this neurotransmitter are associated with depressive behaviors.

An investigation by Cabral, Meyer, and Ames, published in The Primary Care Companion CNS Disorders, concluded that practicing yoga on a regular basis produces significant improvements in patients with depression and anxiety in a similar way to physical exercise. Also, another research, this time published in The Journal of Complementary Medicine, found that there is an increase in another neurotransmitter in yoga practitioners: GABA. The benefits of GABA are numerous, as it participates in the improvement of mood; the ability to concentrate promotes relaxation and helps control stress.

Since negative moods can be detrimental to athletic performance (for example, by making concentration difficult), it is necessary to control these psychological variables to maintain an optimal level of performance.

Help Prevent Injuries

Many sports such as cycling and running are characterized by very repetitive movements over an extended period, which causes specific muscle groups to develop while ignoring others. Imbalances in the muscles and joints can cause injuries.

Improves concentration

Concentration is the ability to maintain focused attention on an object or on the task that is being done without distractions and is critical to achieving sporting success. In yoga, concentration is mainly worked through the Tratak (fix the gaze), Nasagra-Drishti (nasal contemplation), Brahmadya-drishti (frontal contemplation).

Improve the resistance

Although sports performance is multifactorial, it is evident that resistance plays a vital role in the sport. According to science, yoga improves endurance both aerobic and anaerobic. A study by Aslan and Livanelioglu concluded that a group of subjects who trained four times a day for six weeks grew 9.8% in the cooper test, a test that measures aerobic capacity.

It seems that, although yoga is not an aerobic exercise, yogic breathing (pranayama) increases the capacity of the lungs by improving the flexibility of the rib cage and allows the lungs to expand completely, as explained a study published in the Yoga Journal. On the other hand, an investigation of Cowen and Adams, who evaluated the relationship between yoga and anaerobic endurance, demonstrated that both Ashtanga yoga like hatha yoga causes an improvement in this type of resistance.…