5 Highly Beneficial Yoga Poses for Athletes

Are you sitting in a chair right now? Have you been in one for more than an hour today? How about your bike? 1 hour? Run? Everything I do as a mother or as an athlete involves my hip flexors. They are seriously tight. TIGHT. You (and me) need to make serious efforts to practice having a balanced body and to open the areas of tightness in our bodies. For most of us, that means we need to work on the REVERSE of what you do daily. I believe that we need to work on opening the hip joint area with stretches for the hip flexors, backbends and twists.

Yoga is also about paying attention- to the little things that are happening in your body. And iit’s about listening to your body and learning when to back off. Looking at these poses now, I know exactly what is happening in my body during the poses are where I need to do work, do you?

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Why? It opens the entire body from the fingertips to the toes. Opens the hamstrings, shoulders and strengthens the quadriceps. It is technically an inversion and it will strengthen the entire shoulder girdle area. Important to remember to hug the biceps and triceps to the bone.

Cobra. This pose is deceivingly hard! Roll the shoulder blades down the back, press evenly into the hands, scrape the elbows close to the body and lift the sternum away from the navel. If you have tight hip flexors this is also beneficial. I think this is one pose that gets overlooked but is highly valuable to athletes because it is a strengthening pose as well as an opening pose for the hip flexors!

High Lunge or also preparation for Crescent (which would have the arms extended overhead). Massive hip opener for the extended leg. The hardest part for me in yoga is teaching my body how to be “on”! For me, this pose is learning how to engage the inner thigh of the standing leg and get it to spin up towards the ceiling. Also, to remember to engage the quadriceps of the extended leg.

Camel or Ustrasana. For those of you with tight hip flexors this pose is wicked hard! In talking to my teacher about backbends the other day, she suggested I work on this pose daily rather than the full backbend. Camel pose opens the hip flexors, thighs and abdominal muscles and it opens the shoulders and chest. Looking at him, he makes the pose look easy! But, for us athletes, this pose is massively hard! It’s important to remember to send the sternum to the toward the ceiling and keep the inner thighs releasing back towards the wall behind you.

Finally! A rest pose. Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose). Lovely. All athletes should do this daily. Why? Because it will release fluid in the legs- it is the exact opposite of what we do all day every day. There are many benefits of this pose- it’s an inversion, it’s restorative, according to my Yoga Works manual, it will stimulate the adrenal glands and kidneys and circulation to the lungs!

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