It’s clear that yoga is a valid exercise choice. Here are some very good reasons athletes should consider adding yoga to their exercise protocol:
- Injury prevention: Repetitive overuse of certain muscle groups will cause imbalances in strengthening and lengthening. Tighter muscles pull at the ligaments and joints which poses a greater risk of tearing. Flexible and pliable muscles reduce the risk of injury. Yoga works muscles around the joints creating better stability, mobility and fluidity and increasing your range of motion.
- Core strength: Core strengthening is one of the foundations of yoga. Stretching and strengthening of the abdominal, paraspinal and pelvic muscles helps maintain and support your natural stabilizing muscles, aiding injury prevention. Yoga can not only eliminate back pain and lighten the stress on your spine, it can restructure your body so your lower back curve is supported, healthy, and strong.
- Balance: Yoga helps to balance the body by paying special attention to symmetry. Specific poses train and use both sides of the body equally, helping to balance the entire nervous system. It helps to improve body alignment resulting in better posture and relief from back, neck and muscle tension.
- Mental focus: Yoga allows you to focus on the present, increases your awareness and improves coordination, reaction time and memory. You can adapt a yoga practice to be stimulating for energy or calming for tranquility, both of which are great for mental focus.
- Stress relief: Yoga teaches you to calm the mind and the nervous system while faced with stress and physical challenge. Athletes “in the zone” are in a state of complete surrender to mental focus, clarity and calmness of being that allows for optimal performance. Yoga is a great practice before and after any competition.
- Recovery time: Yoga has become a method of physical therapy for injury recovery and can also reduce post-workout recovery time. Doing a few yoga poses and some breath work can help move energy through the body, aiding in relief of sore energy-depleted muscles.
- Increased overall strength and flexibility: Yoga postures use all muscles of the body, helping to increase stamina and physical power. Yoga increases flexibility in the shortest amount of time as compared to other forms of exercise.
- Weight management: In addition to burning calories and reducing stress, yoga can help reduce cortisol levels, aiding in weight control. Unlike the tendency of other exercise to increase your appetite, yoga helps to balance your hormones so you’re less likely to suffer from uncontrollable cravings. Yoga’s mindful awareness may help you to reach for a salad as opposed to a less healthy choice.
- Endurance: Endurance can be measured by overall physical and psychological makeup especially in the body’s ability to withstand a tough competition or workout. Deep, mindful breathing can help improve your lung function and increase your oxygen intake. The counter-practice of yoga lessens the stress and strain of one way repetitive movements such as running, walking and cycling.
- Detoxification: In addition to stretching and sculpting your muscles, yoga massages your organs increasing blood supply to all areas of the body. Yogic breathing not only increases oxygen, it aids in carrying away waste. Many yoga poses are specifically designed to support the lymphatic system and aid in detoxification of the body.
Whether you are seeking a gentle class or are looking for a straight sweat session with no Sanskrit involved, there is a style and an instructor for you. A good thing to remember, a little Zen can go a long way toward improving your overall physical and mental states of health. It may even increase your zest for life as you continue your yoga practice well into your golden years.
Supplements to support physical and mental well being:
Ashwagandha by Ayush Herbs – Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, is indicated in Ayurveda as a daily rasayana or anti-aging aid. It is one of the most highly regarded and widely used Ayurvedic herbs and is believed to increase energy and overall health and longevity. It acts as an adaptogen and immune promoter, nourishing and strengthening the inner reserve of the human body. Ashwagandha literally means “to impart the strength of a horse.”
Stress Ease by Banyan Botanicals – Stress Ease helps the body cope with stress by supporting the resiliency and tone of the neuromuscular system. Unlike the temporary jolts and inevitable crashes experienced with caffeine and sugar, this blend of herbs strengthens the system to provide a sustained source of natural energy. Stress Ease bolsters one’s ability to surmount physical, mental and emotional challenges. Contains certified organically grown herbs.
Asian Green Tea by Jason Winters International – Sir Jason Winters calls this superior blend of green tea “Chao Phrya Tea,” named after the mighty river upon which the tea barges sailed. Chao Phrya means “the river of the kings,” and villagers in the river valley say their special green tea is “as emerald as the mountains rising in early morning mist.”
Body Regenerator by Amrita Aromatherapy – This product is intended to support the body’s natural healing processes, aid in regenerating healthy muscle and nerve tissue and strengthen and enhance the mind/body connection. With herbal extracts, essential oils and flower essences.
PureLean Nutrients by Pure Encapsulations – PureLean™ Nutrients is designed to provide metabolic and weight management support as part of a healthy lifestyle along with a reduced calorie diet and regular exercise. It is a complete hypo-allergenic, highly bioavailable multi-vitamin, multi-mineral and trace element supplement. The formula combines superior mineral cofactors, activated vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, cinnamon, green tea and pterostilbene to support healthy glucose metabolism, lipid utilization and body composition.