Children and young adults derive enormous benefits from yoga. Physically, it enhances their flexibility, strength, co-ordination, balance and body awareness. In addition, their concentration and sense of calmness and relaxation improves
Yoga continues to grow in popularity and now with many sportsmen and women taking up the practice you do not have to go far to find an adult club who have already started to incorporate it into their training regime. Many top professionals advocate for yoga, saying it improves the longevity of an athlete’s playing career, so to start as young as possible can only be of huge benefit.
Listed below is how yoga integrates into some of the core areas of training
Yoga properly instructs the holding of poses and “bracing” of the core. Yoga may not be the fastest way to get strong, but it can add enormous value in a safe way, to a strength program.
Flexibility and mobility are two components that can be constantly worked on and that will pay massive dividends. You know how important it is to be mobile in all directions as a footballer, rugby player and hockey player. The rate of soft tissue injuries originating at the hip, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, and adductors is extremely high. There are many yoga poses that can be easily taught to add to your warm-ups and warm-downs for opening up the hips, gradually lengthening hamstrings etc.
These high intensity sports can have a pretty high demand on the cardiovascular system. With each training session and game requiring high bouts of intensity for up to two hours. Practising yoga regularly can improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rate. Yoga postures and breathing techniques help to maintain a good circulation of oxygen, even in very young children.
There are more competitions, more travel, less time between competitions, and higher demands than ever in these sports. You can utilise yoga postures in your immediate recovery after training sessions and/or competition.
Recovery Yoga Sessions can include the use of yoga techniques that include breathwork, calming music and mental imagery, along with tailored postures and positions to assist players with recovery.
Perhaps one of the most neglected areas in all sports is the psychosocial aspect within all teams. With all sorts of daily stressors, mindfulness and relaxing techniques seem to be more recognised. Yoga’s attention to breathing techniques and bringing people to the present moment are some highly underestimated benefits for team sports. With mindset truly making or breaking even the top athletes, it is necessary that we begin to look at ways of improving this area.
Beyond the physical realm of yoga, some often-overlooked benefits can include:
Enough information is available to show the benefits that yoga brings to sport. Beyond that, players can take what they learn about yoga to develop a personal practice made up of their favourite postures and breathing techniques.
As the new season begins, you can certainly find ways to add in yoga to your program. Like almost everything, starting something new can be difficult. However, with consistency, you will see results and decide for yourself as to yoga’s place within your training program. Depending on players’ time and energy, you may practice yoga one or two times weekly or just include 15 minutes’ worth of postures in your warm-up and/or warm-down.
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