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Benefits of Yoga for Professional Athletes
12 April, 2012
This blog post is by Kelly Prince, owner of Body Heat Yoga in Sarasota FL:
I was born and raised in Sarasota , FL. I'm the owner & teacher at Body Heat Yoga a hot & power yoga studio in Sarasota FL. Besides running my business and competing in fitness shows, I have also had the opportunity to take my passion for yoga a step further. Three years ago Jason Riley, the director of sports performance for the Compound in Tampa, Florida contacted me to teach yoga to all of their pro-athletes. Their client accolades include numerous All-Star, Gold Glove Winners, Pro-bowlers Smythe awardwinners. I have had the opportunity to work with over 100 professional athletes in the MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, ATP, and WTA.
As Jason Riley says, "Yoga is a necessity for these top athletes as they train for their respective sport. Athletes are bombarded with internal and external stresses, causing physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. In order to get the most out of their on-field
performance we had to make sure we were developing both mind and body. Yoga is the perfect fusion of this concept. It allows athletes to learn breathing techniques, learn how to control their heart rate response. learn how to focus while blocking out physical and mental distractions, and it helps correct bio mechanical deficiencies. It is a perfect complement to our program ."
Just before I started my yoga process, I realized that I was like many athletes. I was always on the go and always had that "runners high." I was not one to sit still. I thought I felt great until I realized that what I had often mistaken for energy was actually a feeling of anxiousness running through my body. I gradually became aware that it was not energy I was feeling; my body was in overdrive. I learned that my cortisol and hormone levels were completely out of balance. I needed a gas station, somewhere I could refuel my body. I was in need of BALANCE. Yoga helped me to balance my body & mind.
I believe that athletes need yoga because when they train, it tends to be at such high intensity, that we must balance that with the calming effects of yoga. The use of explosion execrise, where fast-twitch muscle fibers are used, causes the epinephrine levels in the body to rise. Elevated epinephrine levels cause the fight or flight response, which affects the level of cortisol and adrenaline in the body. This response can also occur from over training, which seems to be an issue today, especially with those involved in playing professional sports. When we practice deep breathing, it releases the fight or flight response, which calms the body and mind and brings the cortisol levels back into normal range.
Also, through deep breathing, yoga expands the lung capacity, enabling the body to use 100 percent of the lungs. Yoga is all about the breath, so it teaches us how to breathe properly. The breath is the foundation in every form of exercise. When we learn to control our breathing, we enhance our endurance, build stamina, and become better athletes. We can go the distance!
Flexibility also plays a major role in athletic ability. The more we stretch, the looser the body becomes, and stretching the muscles will release the build up of lactic acid in the body. Yoga not only targets your muscles ; it keeps your body mobile/ The movement in and out of the postures provides lubrication to the joints, ligaments, tendons, and the fascia the surrounds our muscles.