If you’re looking for a way to improve your athletic performance, yoga provides a path toward excelling beyond your current level. Yoga helps to build stability in the body, reduce risk of injury, build core strength and improve imbalances from overtraining/under-training certain muscle groups.
So how often, what style, and what level of intensity will best serve you right now? Variables to consider:
- Flexibility or lack thereof –Practicing yoga can bring flexibility back into your body, or help you experience it for the first time.
- Seasonal demands of your sport or activity – Increase the intensity of your yoga practice during the off-season and support recovery when training heavily or in-season.
- Injuries – There are many ways to accommodate and support your practice with props and other modifications.
If your sport is seasonal or event-based, look for classes that support your recovery and rest during the season. Gentle Yoga is comprised of stretching, breath and movement to open up the body. Restorative Yoga encourages relaxation through supported poses with props for comfort. In Yin Yoga, the focus is on deep stretches targeting the fascia, tendons and other “plastic” tissues. Yoga Nidra is a yoga practice known as “Yogic Sleep” and there is no movement.
A Flow or Vinyasa Yoga class will move through series of poses linked by breath and may be fast (Power) or slow (Gentle). Hot Yoga is another popular style of yoga that many athletes enjoy, since the intense heat allows the muscles to feel more limber and flexible. Ashtanga Yoga develops strength, flexibility and discipline by linking breath with movement through a set series of poses.