Why should an Athlete do Yoga?

Voet van Afrika

You love your sport but sometimes your body just doesn’t move as smoothly as you’d like. Coupled with body stiffness, labored breathing and low energy. Maybe you’re just unfit. So you train harder. However, just as your endurance improves you pick up an injury. Consequently, you must back off training to recover. Often you end up repeating this cycle. If you get hurt each time you ramp up your training, then, how are you going to improve performance. There is a way – more and more athletes are turning to Yoga. WHY? To improve performance and increase energy through effective breathing, protection against injury through correction of structural misalignment/imbalance, and the ability to remain active whilst healing when injured.

How does yoga work?

Yoga optimizes three key elements in your body: Breath; Balance and Flexibility.  Which in turn help to prevent Injuries and improve Performance. In this series we will look at the benefits to an athlete of each of these elements a bit closer.  Beginning with the…


Learn to breath correctly, replacing choppy breathing with smooth, steady breaths, thus improving oxygen intake and energy production. Yoga teaches full, deep inhalations and exhalations – calm, but energetic breathing. Yoga improves respiratory capacity by creating more space to breathe as the ribs; spine and surrounding organs and tissues become more elastic and flexible.


Yoga is based on a central principle of balance. The joints, when surrounded by balanced muscles, are free to move in their full range of motion. If you are even slightly off-balance, every running step you take forces your muscles to work harder in compensation, wasting energy. Yoga re-balances structural misalignment that lead to common runner’s injuries.


Running is hard on the knees; lower back, hips, ankles and feet, so it is imperative that you keep your muscles and joints strong and supple, by increasing flexibility. When the body is in alignment, impact is distributed evenly. Health for a muscle is resilience. The body is meant to be springy! The foot and arch act as a springboard, the knees absorb impact and the spine is designed like a big spring.

Charmaine in Halfmoon yoga pose on the beach


While keeping the body balanced and flexible is preventative, injuries do still happen, be it from over training, or something quite unrelated. We use yoga as a form of physical therapy to heal, effectively increasing blood flow to injured areas and strengthening the muscular infrastructure as injuries heal. The injured athlete can remain active while healing and getting stronger!


Yoga is a comprehensive approach to fitness that will improve performance and prevent common injuries by teaching the athlete how to develop body awareness, balance, strength, and flexibility, improve concentration, increase energy and manage stress. Are you ready to get started? Your instructor has 35 years of distance running experience and remains injury free by practicing Yoga! Click here for her running history and PR’s… A few articles that highlight the benefits of yoga for athletes, along with suggested poses: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=1578&page=5 http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/for-sports-performance http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/for-sports-performance

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