By Bhavan Kumar
What should an instructor know about teaching power yoga to athletes? Many athletes turn to yoga to provide a balance to their usual vigorous and demanding workout routines. Yoga training gives athletes’ muscles and ligaments the necessary stretching that they need after intense work. Postures help prevent soreness, strain or injury. Power yoga combines the best of both worlds by giving athletes a more intense, cardio-based workout combined with the stretching and lengthening of muscles. In addition to the physical aspects, physically challenging classes help athletes work on focus and concentration through breathing and meditative practice. Power yoga teachers can pinpoint some key areas of the body to work on to give students a satisfying workout.
The body’s core is perhaps the most important part of the body because it is the center. All of the body’s limbs and parts originate from the core. A strong core will result in better posture and strength throughout the rest of the body. Athletes will perform better in their sport by having a strong core. Asanas that work the core include cat pose, plank pose, boat pose, dolphin pose, crane and side reclining leg lifts.
It’s important for athletes to develop great flexibility and range of motion to avoid injury and to be able to move smoothly. All yoga poses promote flexibility, but athletes will gain more from a pose by choosing the poses that target the muscles they use most. Cow face pose will develop flexible arms, shoulders, hips and chests. Pigeon pose targets the hips and quadriceps, an area that many athletes strive to build-up with great muscle mass. Incorporating a great stretch will ensure the muscles stay long and supple.
Balance is a key component of any sport. Athletes will perform better when they have good balance. Specific asanas that target this skill include dancer’s pose, tree pose, half moon, balancing butterfly, both big toe pose, extended sage, crow and bound headstand. Many of these poses are advanced poses, which will both challenge the athlete and improve balance.
Focus and concentration are crucial aspects of any sport. Athletes need to be able to tune the rest of the world out while they concentrate wholly on their selves, their teammates, the ball or another unique aspect of their sport. Yoga postures and meditation time will help hone the ability to focus and concentrate on a moment’s notice. Yoga instructors should encourage athletes to go within their selves during classes to find the place where they are intensely focused inward, instead of letting random thoughts and feelings take over.
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