As an athlete, exercise is your middle name. Training calls for hard work and determination. But does it include yoga? If not, you’re missing out! A regular practice enhances athletic performance. It’ll also improve endurance, respiration, and muscle strength. You’ll even gain extra protection from injury, a must for every athlete.1 It doesn’t matter what sport you practice. Sprinters, wrestlers, and everyone in between can take advantage of yoga. To supplement your routine, do these 7 yoga poses.
1. Dolphin Plank Pose
The dolphin plank pose or makara adho mukha svanasana is a variation of the plank pose. This move engages the core, arms, and thighs. It’s the perfect setup for a strong and sturdy body.
- Start on all fours.
- Lay your forearms on the mat, parallel to each other.
- Line up your elbows and shoulders.
- Face your palms down.
- Step back and extend your legs behind you.
- Tuck your toes in.
- Lengthen and straighten your spine. Focus on your core.
2. Supine Spinal Twist
Treat your back to the supine spinal twist or supta matsyendrasana. It’ll increase your range of motion, a key factor in athletic performance. The supine spinal twist also releases tension in the lower back.
- Lay on your back.
- Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet flat on the mat.
- Shift your hips one inch to the right.
- Bring your right knee toward your chest. Extend your left leg on the floor.
- Flex your left foot and bring your right knee to the left, laying it on top of your left leg.
- Adjust to stack your right hip on top of your left hip.
- Make a “T” shape with your arms.
- Rotate your head and face the right. Hold.
- Return both knees to your chest.
- Bend the left knee and repeat.
3. Bridge Pose
Proper form is important for any sport. With the bridge pose or setu bandha sarvangasana, you can make that happen. It’ll fix poor posture while strengthening the muscles that support the spine.
- Lie down on your back.
- Bend your knees.
- Place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
- Move your heels as close to your butt as possible.
- Press your arms and feet into the floor and lift your pelvis up.
- Clasp your hands together.
4. Garland Pose
The garland pose or malasana is a hip opener. The move strengthens the ankles and knees, two body parts that are prone to injury. Think of it as a squat with more stretch.
- Stand tall, with your feet mat’s width apart.
- Adjust the feet to be parallel.
- Bend your knees, lowering your butt into a squat.
- Bend your elbows and place the palms together.
- Press your upper arms against the inside of your knees.
- Straighten your back. Move your shoulders away from the ears.
5. Seated Forward Bend
Tight hamstrings are an athlete’s worst nightmare. With the seated forward bend or paschimottanasana, this won’t be a problem. Your lower back, hips, and pelvis will also benefit from this pose.
- Sit down with your legs extended in front of you.
- Straighten your spine and flex your toes.
- Stretch your arms upward.
- Bend forward at the hip keeping your spine straight.
- Continue until your head meets the knees or as much as possible.
- Hold your toes or shins.
6. Bow Pose
For a full-body stretch, do the bow pose or dhanurasana. This feels awesome as a warm-up or cool-down. To be safe, take your time getting into the bow pose.
- Lie face down on the mat.
- Bend your knees, placing them hip-width apart.
- Hold your ankles.
- Pull your feet away from your head. At the same time, lift your chest up.
7. Happy Baby Pose
Athletes will greatly benefit from the happy baby pose or ananda balasana. It opens up the hips and loosens the pelvis. This, in turn, improves leg movements like walking and running.
- Lie on your back.
- Bend your knees and hug them into your chest.
- Hold one foot in each hand.
- Separate the knees until they meet your armpits.
- Rock left and right, if it feels good.
Hold each move for 3 to 5 breaths or longer. Inhale and exhale completely. By adopting these moves, you’ll be the best athlete you can be.