If you are looking for the true “edge” in your favorite sports activity, look no further than your yoga practice.
Yoga should be integral to any competitive or personal sports activity for more reasons that just body attunement. Yoga practice will improve flexibility, strength and balance, but it can do much more for activities such as running, cycling and martial arts.
Speaking strictly for body mechanics, yoga is great for increasing one’s range of motion, sense of balance and body alignment—all of which will improve performance in any sport. If you want to increase endurance and strength, yoga poses such as Warrior’s Pose (Virabhadrasana) and Chair Pose (Utkatasana) will engage major leg and core muscles.
Poses such as Tree Pose (Vrksasana) and Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) will do wonders for alignment, strength and attention—the three essential elements of balance.
For some athletes, improving endurance and balance are enough. However, gaining a true “edge” in your favorite sports activity does not come from bigger, more limber muscles; it comes from mindfulness and breath.
With any repetitive sport, especially running and cycling, there is an inherent risk of boredom. Sometimes the miles feel like they’ve been spent on a treadmill. Take these moments as opportunities to focus on your breath, and remind yourself of your real achievements, which are the steps or strokes you take as part of a process and not the distance covered.
Keeping this self-awareness will give you new confidence in your sport because you know you are doing the best you can do at that moment. A curious side effect of this realization is fewer injuries from overexertion, and overexertion really stems from distraction.
So be aware of yourself and know that with yoga there are no winners or losers.