Think you’ve got to reserve yoga just for rest and recovery days?
Despite common misconceptions — i.e. that yoga’s purpose is simply to ease tension and melt away stress (although there’s most definitely a time and place for that variety) — a brisk, flowing session can actually do more than help you find your zen; it also improves digestion and circulation, builds lean muscle mass and helps increase your overall metabolic rate.
That’s fantastic news for weekend warriors. But it’s even better news for athletes who not only want to hone strength and flexibility, but also develop proper diaphragm use and breathing biomechanics, get back into alignment and discourage compensation patterns, as well as concentrate on activating specific muscles that have become inhibited.
“Yoga can be an incredibly beneficial practice for any athlete,” says Anabel Capalbo, a yoga teacher, spin instructor and Ironman triathlete. “A consistent yoga practice builds strength and stability, while also working to increase our body awareness and alert us to any weaknesses that could lead to injury.”
And instead of viewing yoga solely as a static practice, Capalbo says it’s helpful think of it as a moving mediation, a time for you to be present and become more aware of your body, your mind and forging a deeper connection between them.
“Not just physical, yoga turns our focus inward and towards our breath, teaching us to find a strong sense of peace and calm when on the mat. For athletes, that ability to turn towards breath and to find strength can be somewhat of a secret weapon,” says Capalbo.
Here’s a sample sequence that can help increase balance, flexibility and strength — not to mention up your athletic game, as well.