As someone who loves yoga, it may come as a surprise that I also consider myself an athlete. I’m not saying I’m Lebron James or anything like that, but I’m always trying to get more out of my body. Like other athletes, I want to be stronger, faster, quicker and have more endurance a year from now than I do currently. I say all this to answer a question that I tend to get a lot, which is “Can yoga help someone become a better athlete?” Well, if someone wants to be more flexible, stronger, quicker, more agile, have better balance, and the ability to better focus, then the answer would have to be “Yes!”
I live in a city where high school sports is a big deal. There are a few local colleges where sports are pretty big as well. In the last few years, I have had more athletes coming to do yoga because they want to gain a competitive advantage. Most come in a bit skeptical. I will overhear the guys usually asking the trainers at the gym about the best test booster of 2015 or which supplements are going to give them an advantage before they will even peek their head into the yoga studio. They may not usually start out looking to yoga, but a lot are willing to try it because they know their teammates or others have done it before. Plus, yoga is becoming more and more popular over time.
Now, I don’t claim to know much about sports. My knowledge of it comes from clients of mine who play sports and inform me of things here and there. What I do know is that the athletes that do yoga at our studio usually report back to me that they feel more athletic, explosive, and, perhaps more importantly, have less injuries. I can’t say I’m surprised by any of this because these are all the benefits that myself and many others I know have experienced over the years. The difference is we don’t play competitive sports like these guys do.
The reason that yoga helps one become a better athlete is hard to quantify, but it helps with:
- Increased core strength – lack of core strength is a culprit of all sorts of injuries
- Increased flexibility – joints and muscles that are flexible are harder to strain or pull
- Quicker reflexes – muscles that are flexible also react quicker, which means better reflexes and reaction time
- Better balance – balance is often overlooked, but it aids in so many things
- Increased range of motion – more flexibility means that the joints have an increased range of motion and usually a more pain-free one as well
- Better focus – so much of yoga is focus and this is something that aids athletes a lot
There are more reasons, but those are the major ones. I’ve even chatted with many of the different school’s strength coaches who say they have noticed better performance by some of the athletes that do yoga with us, so we know it helps.
We’ve even had athletes that participate in powerlifting that say they have been able to increase their strength more than usual, and they attribute that to yoga. So even though myself or most yoga teachers couldn’t tell you what the top rated wrist wraps for powerlifters are (or even what they look like), we can help you bench and squat more. I find that pretty funny honestly.
I personally love hearing how yoga helps so many different people in so many different ways. It’s really a testament to how great it really is. So whether you’re an athlete, powerlifter, or a weekend warrior, yoga can aid you in whatever it is you do.