Yoga for Athletes is series of yoga poses to improve fitness among Athletes. Athletes are strong and look unrealistically invincible in terms of health. Yet, what we see from outside need not be the reality. Many of the athletes, experience tight muscles and injuries, thereby hampering their fitness quotient. While weight-bearing exercises and cardiovascular activities are inevitable elements of an active athletic lifestyle, inclusion of yoga could help to prevent injuries.
Along with reducing the stress levels, yoga bestows the following benefits on athletes:
- Better flexibility
- Increase range of motion
- Better strength and balance
- Lower anxiety
- Improved sleep
- Better endurance power
- More concentration
- Lesser injuries
This yoga sequence, if practiced regularly, could help in reaping the benefits mentioned above.
A Therapeutic Yoga Plan for Athletes
Practice 7 to 9 rounds of Surya Namaskara or the Sun Salutation poses to warm up the body before getting into the Yoga for Athletes sequence.
Breathe throughout the practice and ensure that the core muscles are engaged to reap the maximum out of the poses. Avoid breathing in and out of the mouth.
Trikonasana – Triangle Pose
After completing Surya Namaskar, come into Samsthithih (resting position), i.e. stand with the feet slightly separated, spine straight, and arms resting along the body. Trikonasana is the first pose in the Yoga for Athletes series.
On an inhale, place the right leg about three feet away from the left one. Turn the right foot out to the right. Slide the left foot slightly inward, making a 45-degree angle with the leg. Exhale and on the next inhalation, stretch out the arms at shoulder level, palms facing the floor. Lean the torso to the right and on an exhalation, bend sideways to the right. Let the right fingertips rest inside the right foot.
Roll the shoulders back and away from the ears, allowing the chest to open to the ceiling. Inhale and lift the left arm to the ceiling, stacking it above the right arm. Gaze up. Tuck the pelvis inward, engage the core muscles, and hold the posture for seven deep breaths. Keep the legs and straight active by engaging the muscles of the buttocks and thighs.
Utkata Konasana – Goddess Pose
Next in the Yoga for Athletes series is Utkata Konasana. Inhale and lift the torso and rest the palms rest on either side of the waist. Exhale, widen the stance slightly more, and turn the left foot to the right. Inhale and lengthen the spine. On an exhale, squat halfway until the thighs come parallel to the floor. Join the palms at heart center.
Engaging the core muscles and squeezing the glutes, hold the posture for seven deep breaths.
Garudasana – Eagle Pose
Next in the Yoga for Athletes series is Garudasana. Inhale and straighten the torso. Exhale and join the legs to come into Samasthitih or resting pose. Inhale and rest the palms on the waist. Exhale, bend the knees, and push the hips back, coming to a partial squat.
Stretch out the arms at shoulder level to the sides, parallel to the floor. Bring the arms in front of the torso, swinging the right elbow over the left. Bend the elbows in such a way that backs of the palms are in contact. Now, if possible, try to hook one hand in such a way that the palms are joined in Namaste.
Balancing on the left leg, cross the right knee over the left one. Tuck the pelvis in, engage the core muscles, and keep the spine erect. Fixing the gaze at a point in the front, sit back deeper. Hold the Asana for the next seven deep breaths.
Virabhadrasana III – Warrior III
From the Eagle Pose, untwist the hands and release the legs. Straighten the legs. Exhale and fold forward. Place the palms on either side of the feet. Swing the right feet up, bringing it to the hip level, parallel to the floor. Let the toes point to the floor. Bending the left knee, lift the arms away from the floor and stretch out to the front, aligned with the ears.
Stretch the torso forward until it is parallel to the floor. Close the hips and straighten the bent leg. Gazing forward, join the palms in Namaskar or Anjali Mudra. Hold the posture, engaging the leg and core muscles, hold the pose for the next seven deep breaths.
Anjaneyasana – Low Lunge
Next in the Yoga for Athletes series is Anjaneyasana. From Downward Facing Dog pose, inhale and lift the right leg to the ceiling. Close the hips. On an exhale, place the right foot between the palms. Bend the right knee in such a way that the right thigh comes parallel to the floor. Stack the ankle and knee in one line.
Place the left knee on the floor, allowing the top of the feet to rest on the floor. Inhale and extend the arms up and join the palms. Lengthen the spine and roll the shoulder blades down and close to each other. Exhale and take a backbend and gaze at the fingertips.
Hold the Asana for seven deep breaths.
Next in the Yoga for Athletes series is Parivrtta Anjaneyasana. After completing the previous pose, inhale and bring the palms to heart center. Exhale and bring the elbows outside the right knee. Inhale and twist the torso to the right. Open the chest to the ceiling pressing the palms against each other. Gaze up and hold the posture for seven deep breaths.
Inhale and release the twist. Place the palms on either side of the right foot. Tuck the left foot and swing the right leg back and up. Exhale and come back into Adho Mukha Svanasana.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
We move on to the next in Yoga for Athletes series. From Adho Mukha Svanasana, inhale and lift the right leg towards the ceiling. Exhale and place the right leg between the palms in such a way that the right knee rests closer to the right palm and the heel close to the left palm. Rest the right toes point forward.
Rest the left leg on the floor, extending the toes away from the body. Inhale and lengthen the spine. Exhale and fold forward from the hips. Close the hips and try to balance the bodyweight in the center. Make a pillow with the forearms and rest the forehead on it.
Breathing deeply, hold the pose for the next seven breaths.
Inhale and straighten the torso. Tuck the left foot and swing the right leg back and up before releasing into Adho Mukha Svanasana.
Jathara Parivartanasana – Reclining Supine Twist
Next in the Yoga for Athletes series is Jathara Parivartanasana. After completing the Eka Pada Rajakapotasana on the left, come back into Adho Mukha Svanasana. Exhale and gently lie down on the belly. Wait for a couple of breaths. Roll onto the back, stretching the legs out.
Inhale and hug the knees to the chest. Stretch the arms out at shoulder level, palms facing the floor. Exhale and place the knees to the right and twist the torso to the left. Turn the head to the left. Hold the posture for seven deep breaths.
Inhale and come back to the center. Exhale and repeat on the other side.
Shavasana– Corpse Pose
Last in the Yoga for Athletes series is Shavasana. It is essential to wind up a practice in the right way. And, Shavasana is the ideal pose to end a sequence.
After completing Jathara Parivartanasana, stretch out the legs. Separate them wider than the hips and allow the feet to fall to the sides naturally. Stretch out the arms away from the body, giving enough space for armpits to breathe. Close the eyes and relax the body. Focus on breathing, feeling the air move in and out of the nostrils. Remain in peace and enjoy the moments.
Regular practice is the key to mastering these poses. So practice them daily and see the differences.