For many athletes who are currently in their sports’ off-season, the winter tends to be a pretty discouraging time of year. Between the early sunsets and bone-chilling temperatures (and even more horrifying wind chill conditions), oftentimes the more appealing option is to just go home and forget about it. While in the short term this may seem like a good solution, by the time the regular season rolls around, you might find yourself struggling to recapture last season’s groove. Luckily, yoga can help keep your body retain flexibility and balance, to make your transition into the season perhaps a little more comfortable. So cyclists, tennis players, runners, and golfers… this one’s for you!
An athlete’s respective sport works certain parts of his or her body rigorously, while other parts aren’t worked as intensively. Relatively, they seem weak, tight, or inflexible. During an off season, these differences are exaggerated significantly. We learn the hard way that as quickly as new muscle comes, it’s just as quick to leave if not maintained. Yoga can help any athlete, off season or not, evenly maintain muscle and flexibility. Baron Baptiste, a longtime yoga teacher to professional athletes and veteran of the Philadelphia Eagles’ coaching staff, observes that no matter what the sport, athlete’s bodies tend to have one thing in common: “one-dimensionality”. He says, “There is a lot of overdevelopment in certain areas, and in other areas there is underdevelopment.” A practice such as yoga or Pilates makes it a deliberate point to work one side of the body as much as you do the other. If you do an asana sequence for the right quadriceps, for example, you will follow it with a left-side sequence. Having evenness on both sides of the body is important for athletic ability as well as safety.
We encourage all athletes anxiously waiting for the start of the spring to incorporate a regular yoga practice into their off-season workout regimen. It will help you to connect to your body on a whole new level, and will positively change the way you approach your sport in a couple months. We look forward to seeing you soon!
by Lexy Stauffer