Yoga for Athletes

In any sport, the joints and muscles of athletes can suffer with repetitive motion. By practicing yoga, you can increase flexibility, range of motion in your joints and hone mental concentration. This article is based on a workshop that I designed and taught based on golfers and curlers, but can be translated to any number of sports.

With a bottom up approach, we begin by looking at our ass (gluteus maximus!). Our gluteus gives the ability to rotate at the thigh as well as provide solid lower body support. A tight gluteus helps keep the lower body still but can become over tightened and agitated.

Recommended pose: Chair (Utkatasana)

Moving up to your stomach, your oblique muscles (side abdominals) help you to bend from the side or twist your torso. Strong obliques support the lower back, warding off back pain and posture problems. Located on the inside of the armpit to crest of the hip, obliques are instrumental in the movement of power from the hips to the upper body.

Recommended pose: Banana (Bananasana)

Further instructions: From a laying position, slide your hips to the right side of the mat while bringing your upper body and feet to the left, curving into a “C” or banana. Repeat on opposite side.

Latissimus Doris, the widest and most powerful muscles of the back, extends from under armpit to mid-level of the back connecting the ribs and scapula/shoulder blade. The latissimus dorsi has the largest surface area of any muscle, and it is capable of producing tremendous power. By stretching it in the backswing and then quickly shortening it in the downswing, the latissimus dorsi transfers and amplifies power up the body from the hips to the upper body.

Recommended pose: Thread the Needle

Further instructions: Come onto your hands and knees, then slide your right arm under and across your body, coming to rest on the floor. If that feels good, rest here OR with your left hand, push against the floor, turning on the back body. Then switch sides.

The Pectoralis Major is a very powerful, thick, fan-shaped muscle, situated at the chest (Sternum to shoulder joint). It makes up the bulk of the chest muscles in the male and lies under the breast in the female, helping the shoulder flex and arm extend. The pectoralis major has a number of actions which are primarily responsible for movement of the shoulder joint:*Vital for a smooth, effective golf swing.

Recommended pose: Forearm Plank/Forearm Dolphins.

Further instructions: Come onto your forearms, ensure that your elbows and hands are shoulder width apart. Inhale come up off your knees, hips in the air. As you exhale, shift your weight forward into a forearm plank.

Your forearm also plays a major role in your performance. Supporting the proper grip in any sport is vital for success.

Recommended pose: Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)

Further instructions: Come onto your belly. Lift your chest up off the floor, supporting your upper body with your forearms on the floor. Pull your chest forward first, then lift. Grip down into the mat or onto the floor with your finger tips, as if you want to lift your palms of your hand off the floor.