How Yoga classes can improve sports performance3rd July 2017
Today marks the start of Wimbledon 2017 as a week of qualifiers draw to a close.
Great Britain's Andy Murray, the current world number one is playing as I write in his first round match against Russia's Alexander Bublik.
Andy Murray is one of many elite athletes that have turned to yoga exercises in recent years as part of their training regime. Other high profile examples include NBA superstar LeBron James, Ryan Giggs – the most decorated footballer in Premier League history – Heptathlete Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and the whole of the New Zealand Rugby Team!
It's becoming more and more of a common fixture in training programmes and that's because it's got a lot of benefits that can not only help the body prevent injuries, but also can improve all round performance.
The benefits of Yoga for athletes
Flexibility & Agility
Yoga focuses on movement. A flowing yoga routine will move from one yoga pose to the next and gently work the joints in the body. By increasing this range of motion, you will improve flexibility. For a tennis star like Murray, this can help him to change direction at high speed or allow him to stretch to reach a shot without injuring himself. Yoga will also strengthen the muscles around the joints for added support.
Flexibility helps to keep muscles and joints safe. Yoga helps elasticise the muscles and teaches your body to work as a unit. This way muscles avoid repeated strain because the workload is shared. This also means that your movement and energy output becomes more efficient, allowing you to get increased power in your movement. This is perfect for sports that require sharp bursts of speed like in rugby, or quick one-off movements like a tennis shot or golf swing.
Another core focus of Yoga is breathing. Yoga classes teach you to control your breathing so that you have a more efficient oxygen intake which improves muscle function. By having a more controlled breathing pattern you can open up your respiratory system and increase lung capacity. Some athletes have used yoga to reduce the effects of asthma and other respiratory problems. As a result, overall cardiovascular endurance improves which is beneficial in just about any sporting discipline.
Balance & Co-ordination
By flowing through a series of yoga poses and having to hold postures in different forms, you will improve balance and co-ordination. Some poses require standing on one leg, others with legs in the air. After repeated practice, this will become easier. Balance is important within many sports, because it allows you to change direction quicker, withstand tackles and correctly shift the momentum of your body.
This was why Andy Murray first tried Yoga. He was suffering from repeated back injuries and began a joint practice of Yoga and Pilates to overcome it. Ryan Giggs used it to lengthen his career. Most professional sports stars have 'rest days' as part of their training schedule, but most still do some low impact form of exercise. Yoga fits this bill perfectly. It is an easy way to give the muscles some light exercise and prevent them from feeling fatigued or stiff in the process. Yoga also helps blood flow to any broken down muscle tissues and increases the speed of muscle fibre repair.
How to find a yoga class near you
If Andy Murray has inspired you to give Yoga a try, then finding a class in your area is easy on Yoga Class Near You.
Simply enter your postcode and choose what yoga style or level you are looking for to find out what yoga instructors are teaching in your area.
Once you've found a class that suits your needs, book yourself a spot or contact the instructor to find out more.
You can specifically look for a Sport & Rehabilitation Yoga class if you're looking for to improve your sports performance.
To find any of these classes, you can also download the NearYou App for free. This will allow you to search local yoga classes, events and offers, as well as save favourite classes and book in seconds using Apple Pay.
Source: Yoga Class Near You