Yoga for Athletes: Post- and Pre-Workout Poses
We may not consider yoga a sport, but no one can deny the athleticism required to do yoga well. That’s why yoga can significantly benefit athletes, improving their performance in just about any sport.
Aside from the many mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits of yoga, here are a few of the physical benefits of regular yoga practice:
- increased flexibility
- Improved muscle strength and tone
- improved energy and vitality
- maintaining a balanced metabolism
- weight loss
- cardio and circulatory health
- injury prevention
- improved breath awareness
With all these benefits and more, yoga should be a no-brainer for all athletes looking to up their game. Whether you ski, play football, run, cheerlead, or just enjoy grinding in the gym, yoga can take your athletic performance to the next level.
Below are some yoga poses you can do at home before and after your regular workout. Note: The poses we are featuring do not require putting your hands on the floor, meaning you can practice them mat-free wherever you are before and after your workout.
The mountain pose helps strengthen your core, glutes, and legs, leveling up your alignment and balance, which prepares you to succeed in yoga and just about every sport. It’s a simple but effective pose that involves simply standing tall like a mountain and breathing (many variations exist).
Standing yoga mudra
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Interlace your hands down behind your back. Inhale, and as you exhale, fold forward at your hips, bringing your arms with hands still interlocked up and as far forward as you can. Try to keep your legs as straight as possible. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths or longer. Inhale, then exhale as you release.
In a low lunge, clasp your hands behind your back, tuck your toes, and lift a knee. You can also reach behind you with the clasped hands and dive forward with the upper body to achieve a full-body stretch.
After a hard workout, your muscles tend to tighten up. This pose stretches out the hamstrings and lengthens the spine. To perform the pose, bend your upper body forward and let your arms dangle. You can bend your legs as much as you need to.
The runner’s lunge is an excellent stretch for your hamstrings, hip flexors, and quads. If you are a runner, doing this pose after a hard workout will help you avoid injury. To perform the pose, start in a kneeling position and extend your right leg back, keeping your left leg bent. Place your hands on the ground inside your left foot. Inhale, then exhale as you lean into the lunge, keeping your back straight. Hold for one minute, after which you will repeat on the other side.
Sitting up straight, inhale and sweep your hands out and up, clasping them above your head.
As you exhale, lean to the left, pulling gently on your right arm with your left hand. When you’re ready, switch sides and stretch the other arm.