If you are an athlete, CrossFitter, runner, or anything in between, and you haven’t been adding yoga to your training, you’re missing the boat. You NEED yoga!
The list of benefits of yoga for athletes is long, not only does it improve your flexibility and decreases the likelihood of injury, but it also programs your brain to handle stress better.
This equals improved athletic performance, no matter what your “performance” may be.
*Advertising and Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.
Mindfulness for athletes is BOOMING…
I see it everywhere.
From Shape’s “Why Every Athlete Should Do Yoga” to VeryWell’s “Can Regular Yoga Practice Improve Sports Performance?” the www is rife with articles encouraging a yoga routine for athletes.
Each article has a similar message: the benefits of yoga for athletes can be both mental and physical for a potpourri of sports, from soccer to powerlifting, softball to jai alai (yes, that was a flagrant excuse to use “jai alai” in a sentence-that opportunity doesn’t come up every day!)
I also stumbled upon stories of professional athletes doing yoga with gorgeous photos of them blissed out in Sukhasana (I’m looking at you, LeBron-and this is a gorgeous picture).
Before you go any further, snag this FREE how-to cheat sheet specifically designed for this post!
Whether you are a serious athlete or a mall walker, these breathing exercises (pranayama) can make you better.
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Professional athletes doing yoga…
American Women’s Soccer team, NFL, NBA, mindfulness for athletes has infiltrated the elite.
Hope Solo of US Women’s Soccer Team fame is featured in the article “5 American Athletes Who Do Yoga” from World Yoga News. Solo, whose sister is a yoga instructor, credits her speed on the field to the lengthening of her muscles provided to her from her yoga practice.
Sports Illustrated’s article “Beyond Downward Dog: The Rise of Yoga in the NBA and Other Pro Sports” mentions recovery yoga for athletes as being an integral part of training and recovery for the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and Seatle Seahawks.
It goes on to say that a specific yoga sequence is designed for each position to meet their particular needs as an athlete.
In The Sportster article “Top 15 Athletes Who Do Yoga,” Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Ray’s touts yoga’s ability to strengthen his core for giving him an edge at bat, and Cavaliers’ power forward, Kevin Love, pictured in Warrior 2 in the article, uses a program designed as recovery yoga for athletes to counteract the pounding his body takes on the court.
It seems some of the best of the best use yoga to level-up in their sport.
What are the benefits of yoga for athletes?…
Is yoga good for athletes?
Knowing that professional athletes wouldn’t waste their time on methods that aren’t giving them an edge, it made me curious if there had been documented research done.
I went a-lookin’ and uncovered studies conducted on a wide range of athletes all for the sole purpose of discovering if adding a yoga practice to their training could create measurable differences in their performance.
The published research I found focused on two areas or performance: physical and mental.
Improved physical performance…
In the paper “Impact of 10-weeks of yoga practice on flexibility and balance of college athletes” by Polsgrove, Eggelston, and Lockyer, Division II soccer and baseball players participating in a yoga routine for athletes for 10 weeks had better balance and increased flexibility.
The study went on to say that “the practice of yoga as part of traditional training methods enhances the components of fitness that are the essential components of sports performance” and “these findings suggest that the additional 10-weeks of yoga practice to a regular training routine has a positive impact on balance.“
“Effects of yoga on physical characteristics on NCAA division I baseball athletes” by Julie Biernat McLean focused on flexibility, adding “among baseball athletes, joint range of motion (ROM) is considered an important physical characteristic with respect to injury prevention and performance.
Her study found that one of the benefits of yoga for athletes was increased range of motion for the shoulder joints, groin, and hamstrings.
For more ideas on deep stretch yoga for athletes, read “17 Restorative Yoga YouTube Practices to Revive You.” Your body will say thank you.
Improved mental performance…
Five weeks of mindfulness for athletes and hatha yoga sessions were used in the Goodman, Kashdan, Mallard, and Schumann study, “A brief mindfulness and yoga intervention with an entire NCAA Division I athletic team: An initial investigation.”
The team found that “participants reported greater mindfulness, greater goal-directed energy, and less perceived stress than before the intervention.”
Hatha yoga was also the focus of the Sharma, Kendrick, and Chilek study, “Effect of Hatha Yoga on Stress and Recovery of Female Collegiate Athletes” where they concluded that “Hatha yoga practice appears to decrease stress in collegiate female athletes” and “appropriate incorporation in the training program may reduce negative effects of overtraining.”
The research on the benefits of yoga for athletes is promising, so bring it on, already!
Interested in training to become a yoga teacher online? Check out our post on online yoga teacher training!
Bring on the yoga: 9 challenges…
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If you are an athlete who is now chomping at the bit to strike some poses, I have compiled for you 9 online yoga for athlete practices to challenge you!
These YouTube flows meet the needs of a variety of athletes as well as targeting specific training related ailments.
Recently injured? Start with this guide on gentle seated practices and get back on your feet faster!
Choose one or more to incorporate into your routine today!
Power yoga for athletes
These first 2 videos prove that yoga isn’t only about Child’s Pose and Savasana!
These power yoga for athletes practices will level you up!
Yoga for core strength and flexibility
Ever held a boat pose? Any question you have about yoga working your core will be answered with the practice below.
Best yoga for athletes who run…
This video was created with the specific needs of runners in mind. On the track or course, you will feel the benefits of this practice both physically and mentally.
Best yoga for athletes who have a problem area…
Shoulders, hips, and hamstrings can be a major point of pain for many athletes. The 2 videos below target those very areas to improve your training, performance, and quality of life! Add it into your yoga post workout routine.
Recovery yoga for athletes…
When it IS time for your body to relax and restore, yoga can definitely fit the bill.
Add it into your yoga post workout routine!
Find more ideas for recovery yoga ideas in “17 Restorative Yoga YouTube Practices to Revive You.”
Mistakes made by yoga athletes…
As a yoga athlete, you are not only focusing on yoga but instead, it is just one part of your training. Because of that, you have special needs. The final video is pitfalls to avoid as a yoga athlete.
AND, here is one more bonus video specifically for yoga FOR YOUR FEET!
Unless you are an athlete that only walks on their hands, your feet are essential for a quality performance (plus, they can hurt like the dickens and need some extra love), and it is perfect to work into your yoga post workout routine.
Take it up a notch…
Convinced that you need a yoga routine for athletes in your life and your training?
Take it to the next level with premium online courses geared right to you!
YogaDownload.com offers high-quality online classes focused on yoga athletes.
If you are ready to stop messing around with YouTube videos and join a targeted PROGRAM designed for competitive athletes from tennis to football, then this is for you.
Whether you are new to yoga or an experienced yogi, yoga instructor and personal trainer Robert Sidoti will take your game to new levels of precision with this athlete-targeted practice.
If you suffer from sport related aches and pains, this is for you.
We have investigated professional athletes doing yoga, researched the benefits of yoga for athletes, and challenged ourselves with the best yoga for athletes.
I hope you can find ways to weave yoga and mindfulness into your day and improve your performance and your life!
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Polsgrove, M. J., Eggleston, B. M., & Lockyer, R. J. (2016). Impact of 10-weeks of yoga practice on flexibility and balance of college athletes. International journal of yoga, 9(1), 27–34. https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-6131.171710
McLean, Julie Biernat, “Effects of yoga on physical characteristics on NCAA division I baseball athletes” (2009). Master’s Theses and Doctoral Dissertations. 242.
Goodman, Fallon R.,Kashdan, Todd B.,Mallard, Travis T.,Schumann, Mary. (2014). A Brief Mindfulness and Yoga Intervention With an Entire NCAA Division I Athletic Team: An Initial Investigation. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, Vol 1(4), Dec 2014, 339-356
SHARMA, PRITHA; kendrick, Kevin; and Chilek, Daniel R. Jr (2009) “Effect of Hatha Yoga on Stress and Recovery of Female Collegiate Athletes,” International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings: Vol. 2 : Iss. 1 , Article 30.