Yoga is a great activity that provides a range of benefits to athletes and non-athletes alike.
1. Enhances Your Flexibility
Improved flexibility equals improved range of motion which will give you greater potential for performance.
2. Develops Muscle Strength
The strength development compliments the flexibility. Holding poses for longer develops the strength through the time the muscles spend under tension.
3. Improves Your Posture
By toning your postural muscles, yoga will improve your posture allowing you to stand tall with less strain on your spine and respiratory system.
4. Protects Your Spine
Inter-vertebral disks get their nutrients by being effectively massaged when you move. A yoga session has a range of movements for your spine (back-bends, forward bends and twists).
5. Decrease Stress
Yoga has been shown to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, through the meditation-like and mindfulness of its practise.
6. Enhances Your Bone Health
The fact that the poses are weight bearing (although they don’t provide as much weight bearing as running, it certainly is more than swimming or cycling) helps develop bone strength. The stress hormone cortisol has an impact on your bones ability to maintain their calcium levels – this is decreased.
7. Improves Circulation
Although yoga doesn’t get your heart rate right up there, the relaxation enhances blood flow especially right out to the extremities. The movement also enhances the fluid movement through the lymphatic system.
8. Improves Your General Health
Getting greater blood flow completely around the body can decrease your risk of heart attack, stroke, hypertension etc. The movement of lymph through the lymphatic system will enhance your immune systems response to infection and removal of waste products.
9. Decreases Blood Pressure
Studies in the Lancet have shown that the relaxation/meditation aspect of Yoga is more beneficial for your blood pressure than lying on the couch.
As part of ALL my coaching programmes I include sessions each week working on flexibility. I encourage athletes to utilise Yoga for these sessions, because there are a range of benefits (I didn’t need to stop at nine benefits, I could have easily doubled that).
Including weekly practise of Yoga into your overall programme will benefit both your general health as well as your performance.
Here are a couple of great Yoga DVDs with multiple workouts to follow along with that are worth investing in to enhance your performance and health, regardless of whether you are an athlete or not.