*Yoga is about breathing, that is the critical element. More importantly it is about breathe connected to movement. And as an athlete learning how to breathe, learning how to control respiration, learning how to deepen the breathe providing the body with more oxygen per breathe, slowing the heart rate, controlling the stroke volume, etc. Linking breathe and movement, saturating your body with O2 will only help you perform better, longer, and stronger.
*Yoga is about union and for the purpose of this topic it is the union of mind and body, breathe and movement. It is the ability to connect all systems of the body and help them to operate and the highest levels of efficiency and therefore effectiveness leading to a more integrated and fused approach to movement and a more relaxed state of mind within the movement. Yoga will make your mind and body move with more grace, more steadiness, more fluidity, more control, balance, power, speed, endurance, agility, flexibility and stability.
*Yoga will strengthen your body, your connective tissue, your structure and integration, your muscles, your breathe and your mind
*Yoga will increase your range of motion, your flexibility, your stability and your natural anatomical posture increasing your bodies ability to function at the highest level.
*Yoga will help you learn how to meditate for the purposes of relaxing your mind and slowing down all things going on around you. It will ground you admist chaos and in all sports there is chaos at all times, but it is the athlete who can slow things down and act ahead of and according to what is going to and what is in fact happening at the same time. Calming the mind, creating a stillness and understanding of the fluctuations of the mind is integral to all aspects of life and athletics is just one example arena.
*Yoga is an athletic form of movement and stillness. It teaches one how the body functions and how to address its own personal needs. There is not a person out there who could not benefit from this and athletes who know more about their body and their needs related to sport and life thereafter are in a much better position to be health and fit to perform.
*Yoga is a way to stretch and enhance flexibility, open the deep aspects of the bodies connective tissue, enhance range of motion and a part of the prehab, rehab, restorative, regenerative and recovery process. The difference is it is an complete integrative system of health and wellness that is far beyond what most people do and think when it comes to stretching. After all, flexibility and creating the openness and range of motion in the body is far more than just about folding forward in a standing or seated position to stretch the hammies.
This is just the basics, a little stream of consciousness related to some of what I have observed due to yoga in myself and others. I am not the only athlete or coach encouraging athletes to take into consideration the addition of a yoga practice. It does not have to be a 90 minute practice but it is one you should learn from a teacher such as myself who can analyze your body, your sport and see how it fits.
I do know this, it is my most important practice and it is the difference in my practice and ability. My mind and body function at a much higher level and this integration means I operate at a higher level of sequencing, fusion, function and action making it much easier for me to move and to do so with precision, coordination, strength, power, speed, endurance, agility, balance and other factors that define the athlete.
Do not take my word for it, try it and find out yourself!