Why sporty types need yoga…
Every month I teach a specific Yoga for Runners & Cyclists class at Glow Yoga in Fitzrovia. The class focuses on movements, postures, breathing exercises and visualisation skills that aim to target those with an active lifestyle, particularly those who run or cycle. As a qualified sports therapist and a keen cyclist I know all too well how important it is to balance any training with regular stretching and yoga and it’s for these reasons that I am so passionate in sharing the benefits and helping others to get the most out of their sports. In recent years the popularity of yoga has grown tremendously with athletes and sports people, and with good reason! Here I want to explain just some of the many reasons why sports people need yoga in their life. Yes, that’s right, NEED!:
- Yoga improves body awareness: Most people walk around as if they’re just a head with no body. Not literally of course, but ask them to strike a balance or specific pose and as a beginner it can seem like you’re introducing them to their body for the very first time. But believe it or not, those limbs that sit below your head all belong to you! As a sports person it’s likely you’ll be fairly body aware, but yoga can improve that even further. Yoga uses physical and mental exercises that have been shown to improve proprioception (a sense of our body in space – basically the ability to be able to move our body or sense where our limbs are in space without looking!). Proprioception plays a huge role in development and progression of training as it helps you to move faster, more efficiently and utilise a more unconscious response to your surroundings.
- Yoga improves your breathing: Yoga, and in particular pranayama breathing exercises, have been proven to improve lung capacity and the mechanics of the breath. Any exercise that focuses on the breath is going to maximise breathing, improving diaphragmatic breathing, intercostals and helping you to get more out of your breath. This is particularly helpful for athletes, especially those in aerobic sports, as efficient breathing helps to deliver better oxygen intake which in turn fuels the body more efficiently.
- Yoga can reduce injury and make you faster: Your muscle fibres are like the bristles of a paintbrush, and just like the bristles of a paintbrush if you don’t clean them they will stick together. This usually results in breakage the next time you use it, which then results in scar tissue, which leads to weaker, less flexible muscles (or a useless paintbrush!). By taking up yoga we are effectively ‘cleaning our paintbrushes’, or in our bodies case, cleaning our muscles! This means that the next time you use them for sport they’re going to be in tip-top condition which means you’re less likely to injure yourself and more likely to go faster and stronger!
- Yoga helps you focus: One of the hardest challenges of sport is the mental focus required to stick at it or even just to get out and do it! The mental exercises in yoga, along with the centering and breathing techniques can help to create good routines and help you learn to use good visualisation techniques which will encourage you stick at, and improve your sports.
So to recap; yoga can help you be faster, stronger, more efficient, less prone to injury, more body aware and more focused. Never mind the reasons sports people need yoga in their life, try finding me the reasons you wouldn’t want it in your life!? To find out when my Runners & Cyclists classes are taking place please see my Classes & Workshops page!See you on the mat!