When athletes become curious about yoga and start asking me questions about it, their first thought is that they need it to stretch. Okay, yeah, yoga involves stretching — we all know that.
But what else can yoga do for athletes? Lots.
Athletes, if you're not training for stability you're missing out on getting an edge on your opponents.
In sports like football, hockey, and basketball, athletes need to be ready for rapid, multi-planar stop-and-go maneuvers and also, WHAM!, intense impact with other players. So what does that mean? Players need these three things so their bodies are stable enough to handle the game: balance, joint stability, and deep core strength.
It’s one of those things that takes practice and, sadly, a lot of athletes don’t. Better balance means that the effort that would have been wasted on unnecessary flailing to stay on their feet can be used to power their game.
Bottom line: strength can be used more efficiently.
2. Joint Stability
This is what allows force to be transferred through the athlete’s body. It’s what propels them forward. It’s what gives them power on the offensive and makes them a brick wall on the defensive.
The shoulders, the lumbar spine, the knees, and the ankles are all examples of joints that need to be stable in order to transfer more power. They also happen to be joints that get injured easily due to a lack of stability.
Yoga poses can help to improve joint stability which means a safer game and more power transfer.
3. Deep Core Strength
The deep core muscle meridian runs from the feet, up the inner thighs, across the front of the hips, and deep behind the organs along the spine, all the way up to the head. Most athletes are unaware of muscles in this chain and are really weak there — particularly the adductors and the psoas.
The deep core muscle meridian keeps athletes stable and balanced on impact while keeping the low back safe and pain free.
So if you're an athlete looking to up your game, a regular yoga practice can help you train these stability skills. You'll get better balance and more power and have an edge over your opponents.