When you think about doing yoga, what comes to mind? Come on—erase those images of candlelight, sandy beaches and mellow music. There are countless varieties of yoga practices that can be tailored to complement the type of sport you play, and many of them can be done in the comfort of your own home or at your gym. Yoga is a practice that has the ability to sharpen your body—and mind—to make you an overall better athlete. Here are a few reasons why players like LeBron James and Steve Nash consider yoga to be an important part of their training.
Strength and flexibility
Not all yoga is comprised of stretching and restorative poses. Jock Yoga, for example, is an athletic style-based version that focuses on building muscle through a series of vigorous movement, standing and strengthening postures. A major benefit of yoga over traditional weightlifting is that many of these postures double up as a way to stretch, which will improve your overall flexibility.
Especially when you’re playing multiple games a week, repetitive actions using your arms and legs can eventually take a toll on your body—your shoulders, glutes, knees and ankles are a few common trouble spots for basketball players. The longer you play with tight and tense muscles, the more at risk you are for injury. Not only can a regular yoga practice relieve your tight muscles, but they can strengthen them as well. For those of you with tight shoulders, check out these three basic yoga poses that can help loosen up those knots.
Basketball requires a combination of aerobic (sustained energy lasting more than a few minutes) and anaerobic endurance (quick bursts of speed and jumps). A regular yoga practice can help you improve your respiratory system, which in turn will help you stay sharp and perform your best for longer periods of time.
It keeps you in the game longer
When LeBron had to sit out the last four minutes of Game 1 in the NBA finals last year, he credits doing yoga the next day for allowing him to bounce back in time for Game 2. If a 70-90 minute class could mean the difference between nursing a cramp on the sidelines or joining your teammates on the court, what would you do?
It helps you recharge and focus
Rest smarter, don’t work harder
Are the wrong warm-up moves weakening your game?
You’ll sweat buckets, and never look or feel better