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Pro Athletes & Yoga: A Love Story

Story by The Travel Yogi

Posted: February 9, 2020

First things first: we believe almost everyone, athlete or otherwise, can benefit from yoga. That said, yoga is still an under-appreciated component of a competitive training program... but all of that has been changing.  No less an athlete than LeBron James, often name-checked as the greatest basketball player of all time, has gone on record advocating for yoga as way to sharpen mental and physical performance. He's one of a growing many and we’re giving a shout out to high-performance and beer league athletes alike to give yoga a shake — here are a few reasons it could be just the thing to take your game to the next level.  

Flexibility Obvious and important: yoga is excellent for improving fluidity and range of motion. This has clear applications for every sport, from football to golf. Strength training in isolation tends to have the opposite effect of shortening the resting length of muscles and can lead to muscular imbalances (boo). Even the most impressive muscles can’t reach their peak potential if they’re too tight. All of which means yoga has a place in the routine of even the most strength-oriented athlete.  Strong and flexible is the new sexy.  

StrengthAs a holistic practice targeting the whole body, yoga is an excellent means of working on smaller supportive muscles. Unlike a weight machine, yoga encourages motion through a complex natural arc. Holding challenging poses is good for building endurance in body and mind (as in reminding yourself that you can, you really can, hold this pose for just onnne moooore breath). Yoga strengthens the core which translates to better balance and stability when you practice another sport. It also helps prevent lower back pain, scourge of athletes and desk workers alike.  It's a snowball effect of good stuff.   

Injury PreventionA less obvious but important benefit of improved strength and flexibility is injury prevention. Professional athletes and weekend warriors need to be proactive to prevent strains and protect joints. A few sun salutations in the morning might save a few weeks aches and pains. Every athlete knows they should warm up and cool down, but it might be wise to go full vinyasa.  

VarietyAthletes are often highly specialized. A specific regimen might be the best way to deliver certain results but it can lead to burnout and muscle overuse. For athletes who’ve never given yoga a try... try it! The practice can unlock whole new ways to work out (promise). Staying curious is a fun way to meet your fitness goals and beat the burnout.  

The Cool Down....To fully obtain the benefits of a yoga practice, of course, it’s best to pair it with a yoga retreat adventure in an international destination... Kidding! Though we’re big advocates of getting expert advice from an instructor and always thrilled to welcome new yogis to the fold. If you’re an athlete looking to step up your performance, by all means give it a go. Being stronger, more flexible, and mentally centered - what’s not to love?