It is becoming more and more popular for professional athletes to use yoga. The Los Angeles Lakers (basketball), the Miami Dolphins (football) and the Chicago Cubs (baseball), the New Zealand All Blacks (rugby) use yoga as a training tool for the entire team roster. Individually Pete Sampras (tennis), Annika Sorenstam (golf), Sean Burke (hockey) and Evander Holyfield (boxing) along with many others practice yoga to stay at the top of their game. Truly yoga is a perfect cross training technique complementing and expanding each athletes abilities.
Yoga extends athletic training by:
- Increasing core strength
- Improving pulmonary efficiency
- Reducing performance anxiety
- Preventing sports injuries
- Improving concentration
- Increasing flexibility
- Enhancing range of motion
- Developing balance and focus
- Increasing endurance
- Teaching relaxation
- Relieving stress
Teen athletes can access these same benefits through developing a regular yoga practice which works with their sport(s) of choice.Teens who incorporate yoga into their training will find they are healthy, injury free, and better able mentally to be at the top of their game.
The most effective way to use yoga for athletes is with Sun Salutations. Sun Salutations offer a full body workout achieving greater strength and flexibility. They are ideal as a warm up routine, to use on ‘down days’ when there is not a practice or game scheduled, and during the off season. Simply performing Sun Salutations for 10 minutes a day will improve athletic ability.
A second way to use yoga is through developing mental concentration. Practicing yoga works your mind making it stronger, better able to respond and react. In addition, by practicing relaxation, visualisations and yoga breathing on game day athletes calm the mind, prepare the body, and focus energy and intent. These skills will take what you have gained through practice and provide a competitive edge.
To get the most benefit from yoga, teens should enroll in a Yoga for Teens class. These classes cater specifically to teens developing physical and mental abilities. Alternatively many sports teams now offer yoga cross training. If yours does not, talk to the coach and other team members to see if this can be arranged.