What Athletes Can Gain from Yoga

athletes yoga

As everyone knows, there’s more to yoga than leisurely stretching. Vigorous yoga practice strengthens the mind body, and spirit. So it’s not surprising that many top professional athletes say they have benefited from regular yoga practice.

NBA stars LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love are among the many pro athletes who have spoken about the benefits of yoga. LeBron asserts that yoga has helped improve his stamina and cure lower-back issues.

Here’s a look at some of the benefits professional and amateur athletes can gain from steady yoga practice.

Strength and Power

Yoga poses make the muscles leaner and stronger. Runners, cyclists, and swimmers can improve their balance and overall strength with yoga practice. Yoga practitioners are able to use more muscle more effectively, which enhances their power output.

Better Balance

Yoga helps improve coordination as well as balance. This can assist athletes in maintaining better control over their body movements. Thus, you will be able to jump, run, and swing a bat with more focus and intensity.

Enhanced Flexibility

Consistent yoga practice improves the flexibility of muscles and joints. This improves an athlete’s motion radius, which means swimmers can get farther with each stroke. Flexible muscles are also more elastic and supple, and less susceptible to overuse injuries.

Mental Strength

Mental toughness is as important as physical toughness in the demanding atmosphere of competitive sport. Mindful yoga and meditation practice can improve your concentration and focus. Imagine being able to ignore distractions and keep your mind focused solely on the basket or goal.

New Zealand’s national rugby team uses yoga to relax and recover, and for positive visualizations to perform better in the games ahead. Garnett claims that yoga helps focus his energy intensely, and keeps his mind on the strategies he has to execute.

Recovery from Strenuous Workouts

Use yoga on off-days to recover from the demanding grind of your training schedule. Yoga stretches, relaxes, and repairs tight muscles, and improves blood supply to injured tissues.

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You can also use yoga to prevent injuries caused by repetitive exercising of specific muscle groups. Thus, yoga practice can serve to soothe your body and make it fit for rigorous training and practice. Injured athletes can try yoga to rehabilitate their body during the downtime.


The demanding Power, Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga styles are ideal for athletes. Research studies reveal that yoga practice can help practitioners as it raises oxygen intake and lowers the heart rate. So follow the example of the top athletes mentioned in this article, buy yourself a yoga mat, and incorporate yoga into your fitness regimen to improve your athletic performance.

You may also want to try increasing your flexibility by trying out aerial yoga equipment such as hammocks and swings to perform inversion postures.

Also, athletes who find themselves bored by traditional yoga can consider working out with a couple of friends. You’ll get a powerful workout by using your arms to lift two partners in the air! Read about yoga poses for three people.

Image credit: Creative Commons user slgc, no changes made.

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