Yoga for Sports Performance

Over the past several years yoga has gained acceptance among athletes and triathletes and with very good reason; its effects are both physical and mental and it has endless benefits including increased strength, balance and flexibility, injury prevention and improvement in existing injuries and general health. It even helps increase lung capacity and function which is a key part of any endurance sport and is something I will be elaborating on much more in the future.

But this isn’t anywhere close to where the benefits end for on top of all the physical benefits it also teaches the art of relaxation and improves concentration and focus. It teaches the practice of integrating the body and the mind. If you’re already competing then you should know the importance of a healthy mental attitude when racing. If you haven’t realised this then be sure that you’re nowhere near hitting your potential! And for anybody considering a future that may include swimming, biking and running for anywhere between 2 and 10 hours then I promise you, it’s the mental attitude and focus that will get you through it. Train as hard as you like but if your mind isn’t in the right place then the finish line will feel a lot further away!

Many of you may be wondering how you might find the time to fit yet another thing into your already full schedule but a decent yoga practice can be incorporated into your existing training programme in many different ways. Many professional and amateur triathletes choose to do a yoga class or practice on their rest day but you can also use yoga as part of your warm up and cool down routine and a restorative yoga practice once in a while can be massively beneficial to help open up tight muscles and help relax your body, particularly after a gruelling training session or a challenging race. No matter how busy your schedule there is an element of yoga that is right for you and your lifestyle and ultimately, wouldn’t you rather spend an extra 15 minutes here and there improving your body and decreasing the likelihood of injury than spending a potential 3 weeks or more not being able to do anything at all because of an accident, injury or illness that could well have been avoided if you’d only spent a little more time focusing on the recovery and maintenance part of your training?

If you’ve not tried yoga before, then give it a go and see if in a few months everything feels a little better, maybe even a little easier and a little more enjoyable. You tweak and tune your bike to perfection, you expect the best out of it and so you should. Why not make 2010 the year you tweak and tune your own body to perfection and see what you might be able to get out of that too. Imagine the possibilities, expect your best!

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