Yoga is for everyone, athletes included. Yoga works on strength, flexibility, balance, agility, endurance, core, and overall strength, among other things. Any athlete could benefit hugely by adding yoga to her or his training regimen. Here’s more details on a few of the perks:
Strength: No amount of weight-lifting with free weights will give you the strength that consistently holding up your own body weight will.
Flexibility: Practicing yoga increases flexibility and ease of movement, therefore increasing range of motion. In particular, athletes in sports that require swinging action (tennis, golf, etc.) can benefit greatly. Flexibility in general also helps to prevent injury.
Balance: Balancing poses in yoga improve overall balance in everything you do, preventing falls and injury. When you learn how to be soft and go with the flow, you can more easily bend and are less likely to break or fall over.
Endurance: The endurance that the ease of yoga gives you lends to endurance sports like running, triathlons, and Iron Mans. When you learn to tune into your body and mind, everything can be a meditation—sports included. Yoga also helps you learn how to pace yourself: slow and steady, in it for the long haul.
Core: Almost everything you do in yoga works on your core strength. Strong core equals a healthy back and a healthy body.
RELATED: Try these six yoga poses for a rock-solid core, and say goodbye to back pain and hello to a strong, flat midsection.
Stability: Yoga helps strengthen all of the little stabilizing muscles that people tend to miss in other physical workouts and are vital in protecting your joints and spine (among other things).
Recovery: Yoga also helps put athletes back together after injuries. Again: You’re tuning into your body and giving it the care it wants and needs. Yoga also elongates all of the muscles that athletes spend so long contracting, so it is a great counter-action.
Most importantly, yoga changes the way you think and approach everything in life: When you learn to move with ease and stop forcing things, you will prevent injuries and your body will open with your mind, increasing your flexibility all around.
There are a few poses that are in general good for athletes:
Wheel: works on arm strength; opens back, shoulders, and hips
Down dog: great hamstring, shoulder, and calf opener
Eagle: great for balance and stability while opening shoulders and hips
Devotional warrior (shown above): opens hips and shoulders while strengthening legs