The age-old practice of yoga is often misunderstood. Newsgram claims that some think yoga is a religion, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a spiritual practice, yes, but not a religious one. That means it can be performed by anyone regardless of religious faith. Others are turned off by suggestions that yogis need to go vegan (or vegetarian) which, again is false. There are also those who view yoga as something straight out of the mystic arts, which is also untrue.
What’s not a misconception is the boost yoga can give athletes of any sporting discipline. Ultra-distance triathlete and best-selling author Rich Roll discovered the athletic benefits of yoga recently and he shared with Mind Body Green why athletes of any sport should practice yoga. For one, performing the various asanas (yoga poses or postures) improves functional strength by building core musculature and stability. It utilises muscle groups that are otherwise left under-utilised. This increase in functional strength translates to better and more explosive movements, which are necessary in sports.
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Next, yoga enhances balance and coordination, which then results in improved control over every movement and better form. Try balance poses and you will know what we mean. Make sure, however, that you follow the advice in our ‘Tips for Standing Balance Poses’. Moreover, yoga improves speed and agility, something to which female footballer Hope Solo found out. Solo is a practitioner of dynamic yoga and she has long been one of the best in the sport’s distaff side, with her catlike reflexes and unrivalled dexterity in between the posts. What’s more, Solo has often credited yoga for making her faster, nimbler and more forceful.
Yoga can also prolong careers as it is an excellent recovery workout. It can help alleviate muscle stiffness and soreness, both of which can make an athlete vulnerable to either burn out or injury. Former Premier League player Gareth Barry, who once thought yoga was for older women, is one athlete who credits his longevity to yoga. Now 37 and still going strong, the West Bromwich Albion midfielder holds the record for highest number of appearances in the Premier League (653 and counting).
Perhaps not coincidentally, the previous record holder, Ryan Giggs, also practices yoga. The Wales winger appeared in 632 Premier League matches over the span of 24 years, with iconic football club Manchester United. Giggs credits yoga with having a big impact on maintaining his fitness, allowing him to play into his early 40s. The Telegraph’s Mark Bailey witnessed firsthand Gigg’s devotion to yoga back in 2014. Writing about his sports yoga session with the then-40-year-old, Bailey remarked, “the very sight of Ryan Giggs today — lean, athletic and still playing Premier League football at the age of 40 — provides an irrefutable testament to the age-defying benefits of yoga”. Fittingly, Giggs himself explained the benefits of this practice: “It strengthens your muscles, improves flexibility, but also keeps you fit and gets you out on the training pitch so you can train every day". More athletes are starting to incorporate yoga into their training routines. Other professionals in the world of sports practice yoga in some shape or form; basketball’s Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James, the entire All Blacks rugby team and heptathlete’s Jessica Ennis. The fact that these world-class athletes are doing yoga is undeniable proof that this age-old practice — irrespective of the misconceptions — does work.
Article exclusively submitted to acacia-studios.com