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Friday, 18 May 2012

Positivity Friday :Why every athlete should do yoga

This week has been insanely busy for me and didn't leave me with too much spare time to blog.
Anyway, I love doing my Positivity Friday posts to share some positive energy that I have gathered this week. First of all, I'm finally on Twitter now!! It's a huge step for me because I have never  understood how Twitter works and I still don't but I'll learn. Come and say hello !

Aside from the workload that has been keeping me from blogging as much as I'd would like to, the week has been a real treat with lots of great presents from friends and family for my birthday and not to mention I have been eating non-stop. I will blog about that later. The one thing that kept my sanity intact when everything become crazy is getting my Ohmm hour doing yoga or go out for a quick run. Always feel so good. Of late, I have managed to convince my significant other to try out yoga too and if you still need convincing because you think you are too inflexible, I have found this article that will hopefully convince you a little bit more.

I found this great article on, written by Rich Roll. Rich is a two-time top finisher at the Ultraman World Championships and in 2010 was the first person (along with colleague Jason Lester) to complete EPIC5 – 5 ironman-distance triathlons on 5 Hawaiian Islands in under a week.

In my opinion, EVERY athlete – irrespective of sport or discipline – has the potential to enhance his or her ability by adopting a consistent yoga practice. I’d go so far as to say that if you’re not practicing yoga, you’re competing at a disadvantage and missing an opportunity to enhance peak performance.

Here are a few benefits I have reaped:

1. Improved Strength: Routine and consistent practice of the various yoga asanas (poses or postures) has helped me build strength and improve lean muscle mass. Most notably with respect to several muscle groups under-utilized in my chosen athletic disciplines of swimming, cycling and running. These gains have enhanced core body stability and significantly impeded overuse injury by strengthening the supportive but otherwise under-developed muscles surrounding the more utilized muscles, creating a more balanced and optimally functional overall strength.
2. Balance: As a swimmer, I have always been rather flexible. But my balance is historically horrible. But through a consistent yoga practice, my coordination and balance have improved immensely. Why is this important? Better balance and coordination means enhanced control over how I move my body, which in turn leads to better technique and form -- the brass ring every athlete spends a career refining, whether your focus is a swim stroke, golf swing, running stride, jump shot or wrestling move.
3. Flexibility: Yoga invariably improves joint and muscular flexibility, which is crucial to the body’s overall structural soundness.  Enhanced joint and muscle pliancy translates to greater range of motion, or an increase in the performance latitude for a particular movement or series of movements.  For example, a swimmer with supple shoulder and hip joints is able to capture and pull more water than a swimmer with a more limited range of motion. The result is more forward movement per stroke as well as enhanced muscular economy. In turn, this increased range of motion provides a greater ability to strength condition a particular muscle group due to the amelioration in overall force that can be exerted with each movement. And although there is some dispute about the advisability of “over” stretching (for runners in particular), I remain a huge advocate, finding that the more I work to maintain my flexibility (something that wanes with age), the less likely I am to suffer an overuse injury.
4. Mental Control: The physical benefits of yoga for the athlete are huge. But they’re nothing in comparison to the more ephemeral benefits. Most people, particularly athletes, tend to think of yoga as a great “workout” – a means to tighten the core, flatten the stomach and tone that butt. Sure, it does that. But as soon as the rigorous portion of the class comes to a close and it’s time for savasana (corpse pose), otherwise known as the meditative portion of the session where the student lies down on his or her back for a period of quiet meditation, I watch people flee for the door, ducking out early under the false belief that this most important asana is optional and unnecessary – the hard work is done. Not only are these people wrong, they’re missing the point of yoga entirely. Because savasana is wherethe magic happens. Deprive yourself of this experience and you are missing out on the best and most beneficial part of the practice. From a traditionalist point of view, the series of physically challenging yoga asanas were originally designed for a specific purpose that has nothing to do with the strength or flexibility. Instead, they were conceived and organized solely as a means to prepare the mind and bodyto reap maximum benefit from the important meditation that follows, which, taken as a whole, is a routine designed not to give you a nice butt, but to improve your ability to quell, quiet and control the impulses of the mind -- to clean mental house, center focus and promote serenity by silencing the endless and seemingly unmanageable mental chatter that invades our daily experience and undermines the expression of our “best self” within.
You can read the full article here

If you need some inspiration for your next yoga practice at home you can refer to this great guide:

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