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HOW YOGA CAN HELP BOOST SPORTS PERFORMANCE

To level up in golf, tennis, running and swimming – get on the mat and learn some asanas.

01 Oct 2020

Inhale, exhale, stretch, twist, stand on your head … if you think yoga is just about attaining peace, calm and the occasional acrobatic ‘stunts’, look a little deeper. Grant, it is all of that too but there’s a whole lot more to the ancient practice that can actually boost your performance in athletic pursuits. We look at four of the most popular sports and how yoga helps you get more out of them.

Running

Yoga helps build the core, quads, hamstrings and hip-flexor muscles, all of which go towards improving flexibility and building strength in the muscle groups that help stabilise the skeletal system – the same ones that the body employs when running. When your core and hips are strong, they help protect you from injury that can come from pounding the ground repeatedly and regularly.

Additionally, breathing right is one of the core components of yoga and when applied to running, enables you to coordinate your breath with your movements. This leads to better speed and helps prevent side stitches. The best yoga post to invest time in is Warrior III, which strengthens the ankles, legs, shoulders and back muscles.

Golf

Yoga is often thought of as a gentle exercise and while it is generally a low-impact workout, it goes a long way towards building muscular strength. That’s because many yoga poses require using one’s weight against gravity and in doing so, you gain a lot of strength in the muscles. On top of that, yoga improves flexibility, range of motion, and balance.

Put all that together and it spells great news for golfers – you will be able to achieve more powerful and accurate swings, better control and weight transfer, and reduce the risk of back pain and other injuries. Want to ace the greens? Start by practising these yoga poses.



Tennis

It’s as mental as it is physical – if you play tennis regularly, you’d understand that being good at the sport requires strength in both. You need to be fast, agile, focused, have sharp hand-eye coordination and ball judgement, and think fast on your feet. Yoga meets all these requirements, with one of its main offering being able to quiet the mind and help players get into “the zone”. There are other benefits: Yoga helps strengthen the joints, thereby reducing the probabilities of injuries such as tennis elbow and jumper’s knee. No wonder tennis champions the likes of Andy Murray, Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova are fans of yoga, and these are likely among their favourite poses to stay on top of the game.