Yoga for Water Sports
Yoga is a great tool for athletes of all stripes. There are so many benefits to the consistent and diligent practice of yoga that it stands to reason that sports performance would be greatly improved by regular practice, too.
With the wide variety of yoga poses at your disposal, it can be hard to pinpoint just a few to really maximize your results. While some athletes are looking to increase flexibility, others may be looking to increase strength. It makes sense that you would tailor your yoga practice to your specific needs.
Water sports are a fun way to exercise without feeling like you’re actually exercising. Paddle-boarding, kayaking, and surfing (to name a few of many, many options) are demanding sports which are incredibly entertaining and relaxing at different turns. Good exercise, the great outdoors—what could be better than that?
Of course, water sports are usually prep-intensive. There are a lot of things to consider. You need to know where to buy paddle-boards or how to maintain scuba equipment, on top of learning the sport itself. Fortunately, you’ve got one less thing on your list: I’ve compiled an exhaustive list of yoga poses to integrate into your routine to make the most of your water sports, so you don’t even need to think about it.
Just get out there and have fun!
Poses to Avert Injury
There are so many yoga poses that help keep your muscles and joints up to the task of withstanding the heavy demands of exercise. The best way to treat sports injuries is to not get them in the first place! Invest plenty of time in poses that help avert injury before it takes happens.
Plank pose helps stabilize your shoulder blades by strengthening the muscles between them, which helps protect your rotator cuff. Get into tabletop position a few inches off the ground and keep your spine a straight line with elbows below your shoulders.
Standing forward bend stretches your hamstrings. You never want muscles to be too “tight” before utilizing them in practice, so increasing their flexibility is a good investment over time. Bending at the waist, lean forward and try your best to touch the ground. Keep your chest away from your lower half.
Poses to Increase Focus
Focus is an integral part of any serious athletes' sports preparation, but yoga actively cultivates practitioners’ focus in a way that other sports just don’t. Yoga yields the best results when practitioners are super conscientious of their body signals. This type of attentiveness practiced through yoga can be transferred to other sports.
Eagle pose is fantastic for focus, but it is incredibly demanding. It helps refine both focus and balance. Bend the knees and hook one ankle behind the opposite calf. Raise your hands in the air in front of your face and wind the arms, so that the back of your hands touch. Then hold for minute intervals.
Downward dog is a classic and easy pose. When done correctly, it can still be demand incredible focus from even the most seasoned yogi. Assume plank pose and push back, so that you are making a “V” shape with your body.
The key to focus is to really feel one’s body thoroughly in each and every pose. When a yogi lives fully in the moment and in a pose, they are helping improve their own focus.
Poses to Increase Balance
Balance is integral to the practice of many water sports. Surfing and paddle-boarding both ask a lot of an athlete’s endurance and ability to balance. This skill is worth putting quite a bit of time into, so any athlete looking to improve their performance in the water ought to be conscientious of including a variety of balance centered poses.
Most standing poses will fit the bill for improving balance. There are a few no-brainers, like the extended hand-to-foot pose, in which yogis stand on one foot and extend the other, grabbing the extended toes and holding. Others, like mountain pose, work in more nuanced ways by improving posture.
Warrior pose will ask a lot of your body, but it is great for endurance athletes who are looking for a pose that targets various areas of the body. Warrior pose engages the core, the buttocks, the shoulderblades, and the legs. Stand on one leg, and bend at the waist. While bending, extend the other leg behind you so that it is parallel to the ground. Then slowly extend both arms infront of you, on either side of your head.
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