Yoga and (competitive) sports

8 reasons why (top) athletes should include yoga in their training

The German national soccer team does it, as does Dirk Nowitzki, as well as tennis player Novak Đoković and top mountain bikers Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Kate McCourtney – they all do yoga. And they are by no means the only professional athletes who practice yoga for themselves as a counterbalance to competitive sport.

In this article I would like to investigate why yoga is the perfect complement to exercise:

  • Relaxation

Yoga is the ideal practice for really deep relaxation . In addition to the yoga deep relaxation in Shavasana, Yoga Nidra is particularly suitable as a relaxation method. Deep relaxation helps athletes to regenerate and cope with increased stress and pressure.

  • concentration

A top athlete needs a high level of concentration, be it at the start line, in skill sports or for quick reactions in ball sports, etc.

The three Ashtanga yoga practices Prathyahara, Darana and Dyana are particularly suitable for practicing this concentration. As meditation techniques, they help to focus the mind and align it in a controlled manner. Balance postures also play an important role here.

  • Stable balance through flexibility and strength

In competitive sports we often train on one side. Certain muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments are used heavily while other parts of the body are neglected.

Yoga on the beach

Through a holistic asana practice that is adapted to the athlete, the whole body can be brought into a new balance. Strengthening yoga postures serve to activate the neglected areas and stretching postures relax the required body parts. In this way the whole body comes into balanced harmony.

  • Injury prevention and healing

Due to the development of a physical and energetic balance in the body, injuries can also be prevented. Through special yoga therapy, which focuses primarily on strengthening weak muscles, stretching tension and the fascia, pain can subside, injuries heal and the body can be kept supple. Injury prevention, in particular, is one of the main reasons for many professional athletes like Novak Đoković to practice yoga regularly. With the help of yoga and a change in diet, the tennis player was able to increase his efficiency. That A look at tennis betting also proves it where Đoković is the clear favorite to win the US Open with odds of 1.80. Medvedev follows in second place with 2.75.

  • Self Awareness

The athlete develops a completely new inner and outer feeling through the conscious alignment in yoga. He gets to know each other much more intensively and can thus better interpret body signals, emotions and feelings and act accordingly, in that he can then counter these signals with targeted yoga techniques.

  • breathing

By practicing pranayama, the athlete can work specifically on improved oxygen uptake and use your lung volume to the maximum. Breathing techniques also help promote focus, calm the mind, and provide relaxation.

  • Bring body, mind and soul into harmony

Competitive sport places extreme stress on the athlete on all levels. Not only the body is challenged by intensive training. Pressure to perform, constant maintenance of motivation, strict discipline, dealing with victory and defeat, isolation through long training units, exhaustion etc. mainly affect the mind and emotional state. Quite a few athletes slide into burnout or depression. With a balanced yoga program, body, mind and soul can be brought back into a harmonious balance.

  • Higher purpose

Through regular yoga practice, the athlete realizes that there is a higher purpose besides our worldly lives. Eventual defeats can be accepted and overcome with more ease and the athlete will find a meaningful activity in life even after his sports career.

In summary, one can say that yoga can support the athlete in his life as a competitive athlete on many different levels.

The yoga exercises and practices in detail should be tailored to the individual needs of the athlete and his sport.

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