What is athletic performance? We can define athletic performance as any time a person uses a combination of strength, speed, endurance, or dexterity outside of their normal day to day uses. That means any time you go for a jog, a swim, or hit the gym you are performing in an athletic manner. So how does yoga help you run at a faster pace, swim a quicker lap, or move a heavier weight?
- Better Breathing
Focused breathing or Pranayama leads to more efficient oxygenation of the blood and every type of athletic performance is tied to how well our circulatory system functions. By helping your body shuttle oxygen and nutrients more efficiently around the body, you are increasing your body's ability to run, jump, and swim. Read more about the benefits of breath work in the NCBI study Breathing for Health.
- Increased Control
One of the many components of a yoga practice is the connection between mind and body. "Pull your belly button to your spine" and "Take your shoulders away from your ears" are common cues used during a yoga practice. By spending time focusing on the cues and knowing exactly what your body is doing and where it is in space, you are reinforcing the connection between your mind and body. This ultimately leads to better body control and athletic performance.
- Increased Power
Power, or the ability to apply a force on a load, is directly tied to proper body mechanics and alignment. Many of our athletic endeavors want to bring our bodies out of alignment and, therefore, reduce our body's ability to produce power. By practicing yoga you can help bring your body back into optimal alignment and perform as efficiently as possible.
Our bodies allow us to do so much that it only makes sense to care for them in the best ways we know how. From weekend warriors to professional athletes, yoga can benefit people at any level of the athletic spectrum!