Written by Coach Mali Gaber

Yoga is an increasingly popular practice among athletes of all disciplines. Athletes and non-athletes alike practice yoga for a variety of reasons, from mental health benefits to fitness gains. Among a wide range of these diverse benefits include: improving mobility and flexibility, building strength, aiding in injury recovery and prevention, stress management, increasing focus, and boosting other areas of mental health.

Choosing the Right Yoga for You

While there are many benefits to yoga, choosing the right yoga practice for you and your training is important. It’s critical that your yoga practice compliments your training without any negative impacts.

There are many different types of yoga, including flow-based or sun salutation based practices, while others are a set sequence of static poses. Different types of yoga offer different benefits. Some forms of yoga are invigorating and challenging while others are calming and restorative.

A common mistake many athletes make is taking a yoga class on a recovery day, but end up doing a vigorous session. If you’re looking for a restorative yoga, opt towards Yin, Meditation, or a mild Vinaysa (Slow Flow) practice. If you’re taking a class in a Hot Room make sure to pay extra attention to hydration before, during and after the class.

Anyone Can Do Yoga…. Anywhere

One of the beauties of yoga is its simplicity. Yoga can be done almost anywhere, without any equipment. (A mat is useful, but not necessary.) Furthermore, you don’t need to take a class to practice yoga. You can begin reaping the benefits of a routine yoga practice by brief self-practice sessions at home.
Kick start your yoga practice with an achievable goal, such as two to three 10 minute sessions a week. If you don’t know where to begin with self-practice, try a few cycles of sun salutation in addition to some static poses to meet any personal needs.  There are many helpful resources online including the Yoga Pose catalog from Yoga Journal. Being able to search by benefit makes it easy to find the right poses for your practice! http://www.yogajournal.com/category/poses/

Building Yoga Into Your Training

Whether you already include yoga in your training or are looking to start incorporating yoga into your life, identify what you’re looking to get out of your yoga practice and appropriately select a yoga style to compliment your training. Depending on the week or time in your training, you might have different needs. The best time to start incorporating yoga into your routine is during the off-season. Be cautious in trying a new exercise close to a race.

Whatever your reasons or interest in yoga, it can serve as a great reprieve from the performance driven world we live and train in. Let yoga be an outlet to become more connected to your mind and body. Save the data for a different session; learning to listen to your body is an important skill as an athlete!

Here at SBR Endurance Performance Center we’re all about helping you become your personal best. Everything comes full circle - training, recovery, nutrition, sleep, along with your mental health and well-being.