Yoga for athletes
A world wide publication had this to say about yoga; MEN'S FITNESS - A CHALLENGING WORKOUT TO MIND AND MUSCLE
After an internet poll asking athletes about their physical weak spots, they ALL reported struggle with three areas: hips, hamstrings and lower back. Whether you are a serious basketball, football, baseball, tennis or soccer player, marathon runner, or a fitness enthusiast of any kind, yoga helps to improve your game by providing greater strength, mental focus with fewer injuries. In fact many male-dominated professional sports teams have incorporated this practice into their workouts, thus supporting its importance to physical fitness for athletes requiring optimum health and peak performance. According to Gwen Lawrence, Yoga Instructor to members of the New York Yankees, New York Giants, and New York Red Bulls, "Yoga is not simply sitting around ommming all day. While holding the challenging poses of yoga, such as warrior, plank, or bow, the athlete must focus on core control while keeping their muscles in a specific position for an extended period of time. Yoga postures actually translate into similar movements used on the playing field. Practicing these poses just once or twice a week gives players added power and speed, as well as the mental endurance necessary to stay focused throughout the entire game.
Stretching is not the only benefit. Yoga also has a body-mind connection that you don’t find in just stretching. The constant focus on the breath and the development of breath awareness will eventually give you greater body control, which is necessary in the participation of all sports. The breathing work in yoga will enhance your ability to carry oxygen to your muscles when you participate in sports. This translates into quicker reactions to unexpected situations encountered in any sports. Cross-training with Yoga allows an individual to achieve optimal performance in his or her sport because peak performance in any physical activity requires overall strength and stamina that is not attainable by the repetition of one sport or exercise routine.
Benefits of Yoga
This one is simple, the more flexible you are, the more core strength you have the less you will get injured and if you are unfortunate enough to get injured your recovery is reported to be as much as 60% faster. It is important to maintain a range of motion and stretch out the muscles that get tight from repetitive body action. A tight muscle is brittle, hard, and inflexible. Because muscles act as shock absorbers, they need to be soft, malleable, and supple. Brittle muscles cause the joints to rub and grind, making them vulnerable to tears and to painful knee injuries. Tense muscles also contribute to pain. Relaxing muscles helps to minimize the pain that is associated with brittle muscles.
Overall Better Performance
The relationship between the goals of yoga and sports is the main focus of this review. Yoga is a holistic system that teaches skills many athletes seek, such as control over the mind; control over the body; good breathing habits; relaxation under pressure; highly developed concentration skills; and the ability to focus on the present. According to Patanjali, the scholar who codified yoga in the second century BC, meditation (a component of yoga) is "... the uninterrupted flow of concentration toward an object." Meditation is super concentration. The importance of focus in sports is obvious; the greatest athletes are legendary for their powers of concentration."In competition, athletes at all ability levels tend to have a fear of losing, of other competitors, or of developing mental deterrents to excellent performance. Meditation is useful in overcoming these problems. Meditation trains thought to be one pointed in the face of the brain's continual barrage of sensory impressions and desires.Robin notes that meditation will then develop one's will power; the ability and desire to retain to a single-pointedness and discrimination in the face of confusion and distraction. Increased willpower through meditation can improve both athletic performance and enjoyment in sports and acceptance of you. The purpose of yoga is to combine the forces of the mind and body so that they are not at odds with one another. The philosophy is that one cannot acquire control over the body without also acquiring control over the mind. The traditional thinking (training the body to the demands of the sport and hoping the mind is trained along with it) has already been challenged with a contemporary view that suggests the mind and body are separate entities requiring equal consideration in the development of training skills. Note that every professional team has a team psychiatrist that’s sole focus is keeping the athletes heads straight.Yoga may enhance whole-brain function. Studies indicate that when the brain was vibrated in the alpha state, subjects relaxed until they attained an alert state of awareness. The more aware the athlete is of body and mind, the greater his or her opportunity to prevent or control injuries. The body and mind can only cope with a certain amount of stress before breakdown occurs, producing illness and injury.
FLEXIBILITY OF RANGE AND MOTION
Engaging in frequent yoga exercises will make the spine more flexible and muscles suppler. Yoga routines offer the steady increase in flexibility and range in motion that are ideal for athletes which can drastically decrease any risk to injuries. It lengthens the entire body and release joints, thus adding to the overall improvement of one's game. Regular yoga practice will improve core strength, which is essential to sports performance and injury preventions. A variety of yoga poses such as plank, chaturanga, and chair pose increase strength overall, including core strength. It adds a new form of resistance training to one's typical machine-based workouts. Regular training is often accompanied by chronic aches and pain, something athletes are far too familiar with. Practicing yoga helps the muscles to release chronic pain and allows players with mobility and agility and play more efficiently. Balance exercises are often overlooked by athletes, but it is actually one of the most effective ways to correct muscle imbalances mechanical problems in the body. Athletes often tend to perform repetitive motion exercises that focus on a group of muscles while the others are ignored. Yoga helps to fix these imbalances, as well as imbalances in the mind.
Progressive Power Yoga combines breathing exercises with swift movements that WILL give you a complete workout comparable, if not better than, to cardio exercises. It is a complete total mind/body exercise.
UPBEAT, CARDIO, MAKES-YOU-SWEAT EXERCISE REGIMEN
Yoga also benefits any type of cardiovascular fitness, such as football, hockey, basketball, skiing, soccer and other team sports. For example, anytime a man assumes a bent-over position to play a sport, lung expansion and diaphragmatic breathing are impaired. However, the deeper "ujjayi" nose breathing practiced during Progressive Power Yoga classes’ increases power and breathe strength throughout the heart and lungs, even in bent-over positions. Stronger heart and lungs help circulate oxygenated blood more effectively throughout your whole body for more efficient breathing, reaction time and added coordination. It's this very breathing discipline, combined with Power Yoga movement, that makes this workout so much more comprehensive and life altering - your workout goes to another level.
Although it's hard to believe that something so low-impact can boost stamina, yoga's deep, controlled breathing means that more oxygen is being pumped throughout your body as pure energy. Each time you stretch a muscle, your body responds by bringing in more oxygenated blood making the muscle not have to work so hard. Your muscles use this oxygen to stay active longer, while also flushing out excess lactic acid, which prevents injury and soreness after a workout.
Practicing good breathing techniques as taught in yoga can help one to exercise more efficiently. To achieve optimum endurance levels, the body needs to better utilize its oxygen intake. The body relies on oxygen for producing energy while exercising, and so a person with good endurance has a greater capacity to deliver oxygen to the working muscles. Deep breathing in yoga helps to relax the muscles and increases the capacity to deliver oxygen to the working muscles more efficiently, thus leading to better endurance.
INCREASE MUSCULAR STRENGTH
Stretching elongates the fascia, a protective sheath of connective tissue covering all muscles and muscle cells. On the molecular level, fascia tissue is actually stronger than structured steel. When the fascia is stretched using the techniques of yoga the muscle underneath is ultimately given greater room to grow. Stretching also gives the muscle a greater shape, with more convolutions and contractions, so muscle separation improves as well. Stretching when combined with proper nutrition can even alter bone structures. Bone structure can change dramatically such as sternums being pushed out to clavicles increasing in length, thereby increasing the shoulder structure. Yoga stretching can be especially good for muscle groups that don't respond well to regular weight training. Yoga when done consistently can increase your strength. Strength through yogic stretching is related to your golgi tendon reflex threshold, which limits a contraction well short of the point at which the tendons would be injured. Regular stretching gives your muscles the ability to fire more efficiently without shutting down in response to stretched tendons. The golgi tendon organs (GTOs) are located in the tendons near the ends of the muscle fibers. Essentially these GTOs are stretch receptors, and they respond to changes in muscle or tendon length as a muscle or tendon is stretched, or when a muscle contracts powerfully. They act as a safety mechanism for the muscle and tendons. If the intensity of a muscular contraction or a stretch exceeds a certain critical point, an immediate reflex occurs to inhibit the contraction or stretch. As a result, the muscle instantly relaxes and the excessive tension is removed, and with it the possibility of injury. In other words the GTOs shut down the muscle to prevent injuries. If the GTOs didn't exist, it would be possible to have a stretch or muscle contraction so powerful that the muscle or tendon would be torn of their attachments. In the weight room when you fail with a weight on a max rep, it isn't just because of muscular fatigue: it's because your GTOs fired and shut down your muscles. So how do you raise your GTO threshold? By stretching your muscles and ligaments regularly you can raise your GTO threshold, gaining a strength increase by as much as 15 to 20%. The higher your GTO threshold, the more intensity you can train with which leads to greater strength gains.
BODY-BASED BENEFITS OF YOGA
Years of sports, weightlifting and everyday stress take their toll on a person’s body. Unlike ordinary workouts, the breathing and mental techniques that power yoga provide the winning edge to any sport or competition. Yoga is an upbeat, cardio, make-you-sweat exercise regimen that will help you get your body into the best shape you've always dreamed of. Sculpt long, lean muscles, decrease stress, look and feel younger, increase your energy, lose weight, boost confidence, rev up your metabolism, increase mental focus and clarity, enhance your immune system and increase your longevity with the first total mind/body fitness regimen.
Yoga can be an upbeat, cardio, make-you-sweat exercise regimen that will help you get your body into the best shape you've always dreamed of. Sculpt long, lean muscles, decrease stress, look and feel younger, increase your energy, lose weight, boost confidence, rev up your metabolism, increase mental focus and clarity, enhance your immune system and increase your longevity with the first total mind/body fitness regimen.
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