High-octane activitiessuch as skiing, hiking, running, biking, and surfing have always been my idea of exercise. Growing up playing hockey and ski racing made me avoid any kind of meditation or mindfulness at all cost. Past yoga experiences always found the clock capturing my attention more than the exercise, thinking about anything but the stretch, the pose, or the breathing. No talking? For an entire hour? No thanks. Yoga has always seemed a new-age fad—a cop-out for actually exercising. Then one of my girlfriends proposed a challenge: a different activity every month for a year, with October’s activity being yoga.
With each day of the yoga challenge, yoga has become more of an addiction to body and mind. The results have been amazing—increased strength, presence of mind, and improved sleep, to name a few. To every athlete, irrespective of sport or discipline:implementing yoga will enhance your ability. For ski racers: all skiers’ hips are tight. When a group of skiers gets together and sits with their legs crossed, it is pathetic.
Yoga can strengthen your ski legs
Yoga improves joint and muscular flexibility, which is imperative for the body’s overall health. Enhanced joint and muscle pliancy translates to greater range of motion, which in turn, decreases the chance of an overuse injury.
Consistent practice of the various yoga poses helps build strength and balance. Core stability is enhanced and subsequently reduces overuse injury by strengthening the muscles surrounding the more utilized muscles, creating a more balanced overall strength. By practicing yoga, balance is improved. Better balance and coordination means enhanced control over the body, which for any athlete, leads to better technique and form.
Improve your body and mind
The physical benefits of yoga for the athlete are huge, but they’re nothing in comparison to the more abiding benefits. Most people, particularly athletes, tend to think of yoga as boring. Everyone atMSUis busy and if another activity is added to the schedule, it better be worth it. In order to benefit from yoga, one must commit to the hour they are practicing. Others, mostly non-athletes, think of yoga as a way to tighten the core, flatten the stomach, and tone that butt. Sure, it does that, but so can many other exercises,right?
Yoga was a routine designed not to give you a nice butt, but to improve your ability to quiet and control the impulse of the mind, and to center focus and promote serenity by silencing the endless mental chatter.
When you look at the highest levels of sport, all athletes are talented. They train hard, they practice technique, and they do everything they can to take them to the top level. Many athletes are forgetting a crucial part of the puzzle: a sound mind. Yoga can not only improve sleep, reduce stress, quell negative mental chatter, and manage fear, it can change the entire approach to training and racing.
By incorporating yoga into your schedule, you will become better at what you do whether you are a competitor, a recreational athlete, or a couch potato.