Do you know the best yoga poses for athletes? Athletes can gain so much from regularly practicing yoga. It’s an ancient and deep tradition that serves for rest, relaxation, and increasing one’s mindfulness. It’s more than clear that each of these three is great for one’s athletic performance.
On the one hand, it increases your physical capacity and flexibility, which reduces the risk of injury and physical burnout. It enhances your focus and helps you deal with the stress you may encounter on the field or in the preparation stage (training sessions, camp, etc.).
Regardless if you’re skeptical of all this or not, the fact remains that there’s no downside to trying your hand at yoga. Still, is there a difference between the type of yoga or the choice of the pose? To answer this question, here are several best yoga poses for athletes.
1. Standing Forward Fold
This pose is famous for yoga and is one of the most common ways to stretch. The pose is pretty simple, but it depends on your flexibility. It involves you standing with your legs straight and trying to bring your face as close to your knees as possible.
The flexibility and your ability to succeed at this depends on your abdominal muscles below the navel. So, other than just helping you stretch, it helps you reveal just how flexible you currently are. If you do this regularly and strengthen relevant muscles, you will eventually be able to straighten your legs fully and bring your head to your knees simultaneously.
While learning how to do this, you need to figure out how to prepare for this safely. The safest and the most effective way to do so would be to start with bent knees. Then, once you master this, do the version with a micro-bend in your knee. Last, you need to do so with straight legs and a rounded back. This final version is what you’re aiming for.
2. Warrior I
In almost all sports, the flexibility of your leg muscles, groin, and core is essential in injury prevention and full mobility. The symbolism of the pose is also relatively straightforward–the warrior. It symbolizes athletes as the warriors of the present day.
Over time, this might improve your hip mobility and the strength of your inner thigh. In addition, Achilles tendon injury is prevalent in professional sports and exercising this pose regularly enhances this. Finally, it strengthens the knees (which is something that few other exercises do).
Last, this pose is essential for runners or any athlete whose respective sport relies on running. This pose is probably great for a sport that involves cardio. Even people passionate about racquetball can find that this pose minimizes the chance of injury and boosts their overall performance.
The technique for mastering this pose is pretty simple. However, if you still can’t pull it off, try out a modification.
This is probably the best, most popular pose for post-workout stretching. It’s also the best pose to use just after you’ve done some core workouts (like crunches). When done correctly, this pose improves your flexibility and increases your recovery. It also helps loosen up your spinal column, which might reduce the risk of back pain.
As far as some other benefits of this pose, we know it may help with anxiety release. However, it goes beyond saying just how important this is for athletes. Boost in strength and flexibility is also noticeable with those who do it regularly, but this is not something exclusive to the Cobra pose. In some scenarios, I even knew it to boost digestion and ease asthma.
Remember that the Cobra pose is one of the simplest you can do. While people make common mistakes (like curling your toes, which leads to spine crunching), it’s probably the easiest pose to master.
There’s a reason we talk about Bow pose just after we’ve discussed the Cobra pose. It’s mainly because a proper Cobra pose strengthens the muscles required for you to pull off a successful Bow pose. However, these two poses aren’t interchangeable, and that you should do both.
Like the Cobra pose, the Bow pose aids with fatigue, flexibility, anxiety, and digestion. In addition, it can help straighten your posture. In some sports, because of the natural stance, you might be on the way to ruin your posture. This can help make up for it.
Still, there are some caveats. If you’re pregnant, have heart disease, have high blood pressure, suffer from recent abdominal surgery, or have some severe issues with your lower back, it might be for the best if you were to avoid this pose. Fortunately, most of these tips probably don’t apply to professional athletes.
Bridge pose should become a part of your yoga routine. Namely, it is fantastic for flexibility and dealing with some back pain issues. It also allows you to increase the strength of your lower back area. In addition, it opens hip flexors and psoas, which, strange as it may sound, does not happen with other exercise routines.
It also boosts flexibility in the spine, reduces backaches, and boosts digestion. We stressed the importance of digestion since proper nutrition is one of the carrying pillars of any professional athlete’s performance.
While the pose itself isn’t challenging, some modifications could make it even easier for the first-timers. For instance, you could use a block between your knees to further enhance the work done and on your inner thighs.
As we’ve mentioned, the pose itself is easy or stressful, but if you’ve recently had a neck injury, it might be a lot safer to avoid it.
The last words on the best yoga poses
In the end, yoga is about the health of your mind and body. It allows you to minimize the likelihood of injury, increase your natural resilience and, overall, benefit your entire organism. However, yoga is an umbrella term, and the choice of specific poses will drastically affect your experience.
Therefore, start with some research and make a list of poses that are the most beneficial to your specific sport. Then, look at a tutorial since many of these poses are more complex than they appear, and you may need a step-by-step guide to help you out. This way, yoga poses will become a part of your athletic routine before you know it.