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Yoga for Sports: How Yoga Improves Your Game
Yoga for Sports: How Yoga Improves Your Game

Whether you’re working to improve that backswing on the fairway or perfect an inverted hand plant with a snowboard, incorporating a yoga practice into your routine can really help step up your sports game. In fact, doing yoga can make you better at just about every other sport you’re passionate about. And all you need is your body to make the magic happen!

Just ask professional athletes like Lebron James, golfer Lexi Thompson, snowboarder Emilien Badoux and the entire New York Yankees lineup. They — and their trainers and coaches — know that yoga offers both physical and mental benefits that translate both on and off the field. But here’s the good news: you don’t need to be a pro to reap the rewards of a regular practice.

While incorporating yoga on a rest day can be beneficial, timing your session so that you’re engaging in stretches right before or after your activity can multiply those benefits.

Here are three reasons why the timing of your yoga practice is crucial to athletic performance:

A good yoga warm-up can translate to better performance during your sport.

Most experts agree that static stretching should be saved for after your workout (more on that in a bit). But engaging in a yoga session that incorporates dynamic stretches is the perfect way to start your workout. A simple sun salutation can gently wake up your body to the activity it’s about to undertake. You can also hand-pick a series of dynamic stretches that specifically target the muscles you’re about to use in the workout ahead. Think lunges to open up the hips and quads for a day on the slopes and an arching-down-dog-to-knee-to-chest to engage your hip flexors and hammies for an endurance run. A good pre-sports yoga session is a low-impact way to prime your muscles for peak performance on the field while improving strength, balance, and flexibility. 

Post-workout yoga stretches can help prevent injury and keep you in the game longer.

Ever woken up the morning after a grueling workout to find yourself on a bed-ridden struggle bus? Hello, sore muscles! A little post-activity yoga stretching can go a long way toward preventing that dreaded delayed-onset muscle soreness. And here’s where you’ll want to throw some static stretches into the mix — while they’ve been shown to impede performance before a workout, they can actually help increase range of motion, ward of stiffness, and safely bring down your heart rate when performed post-workout. For example, a post-tee time Revolved Crescent Lunge can help golfers stretch out tight outer hips and hip flexors. 

Yoga can make you fully present to the activity you’re about to undertake.

Priming that mind-body connection before or after a workout can be a powerful tool in your fitness kit. Your practice can ground and center you for the activity ahead while teaching you how to be comfortable in the face of discomfort. Taking a moment to reflect on your sport and be mindful of the signals your body is sending you can help prevent injury and turn your focus on what your body may need from that workout. 

Ready to get started? Tee up these four classes right before (or after) your next workout:

Elise Fabricant: Post Workout Gentle Cool Down

Denelle Numis: Apres-Ski Yoga

Claire Petretti Marti - Power Up for Powder Days: Snowboarder Flow

Robert Sidoti - Yoga for Golf


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