5 BEST YOGA POSES FOR ATHLETES

If you are reading this there is a good chance you are an athlete who is curious about how yoga will help you recover after your training sessions. As a Massage Therapist for athletes I have multiple clients coming into my office in pain or with injuries from sports training. I also have many students come into my Yoga Sculpt Class (a very fitness oriented yoga class with weights) that skip the yoga to add more cardio or weight training as we warm up and cool down. Many of these athletes hesitate to do yoga because they are so inflexible. Also as a competitive person it is hard to show up at a yoga class and feel like you can’t get into the pose. Others find it hard to fit it into their training schedule. I’m going to give you 5 poses that you can do in your own home! These poses will be time efficient (10 min time total) and help you get out of pain while increasing your flexibility.

YOGA POSES FOR HIPS & GLUTS

One of the tightest region on the body that athletes complain about are the Gluts and Hips. Tightness in this area also cause low back pain, ongoing pain or weakness in the hips and shooting pain down the leg if not dealt with.

RUNNERS LUNGE

COME INTO A FORWARD LUNGE WITH YOUR KNEE STACKED OVER YOUR ANKLE.  WALK YOUR FOOT OUT WIDE ENOUGH SO THAT BOTH YOUR HANDS CAN BE ON THE INSIDE OF YOUR FOOT. IF AVAILABLE TO YOU, DROP YOUR FOREARMS TO THE FLOOR. YOUR OTHER LEG WILL BE STRAIGHT BACK BEHIND YOU WITH YOUR KNEE DROPPED TO THE FLOOR. HOLD THIS POSE FOR AT LEAST 5 BREATHS. BREATH DEEPLY INTO ANY TENSION THAT YOU FEEL. PICTURE BELOW:

PHOTO CREDIT emswaytogo.wordpress.com

SLEEPING PIGEON POSE

COME TO ALL FOURS WITH YOUR HANDS BELOW YOUR SHOULDERS. BRING YOUR LEFT KNEE TO YOUR LEFT WRIST. YOUR LEFT THIGH WILL BE CLOSE TO OR PARALLEL WITH THE MAT. INCH YOUR LEFT FOOT FORWARD UNTIL YOU FEEL A DEEP STRETCH. EXTEND YOUR RIGHT LEG STRAIGHT BACK AND RELAX YOUR FOOT. STAY UP ON YOUR HANDS, SETTLE ONTO YOUR FOREARMS OR REACH YOUR ARMS OUT IN FRONT OF YOU WITH YOUR FOREHEAD RESTING ON THE MAT OR FLOOR. HOLD EACH SIDE FOR 2 MINUTES WHILE TAKING DEEP BREATHS INTO THE AREAS WHERE YOU FEEL THE MOST TENSION. ALWAYS TRY TO RELAX A LITTLE MORE ON THE EXHALE AS YOUR MUSCLES SOFTEN WITH THE POSE. PICTURE BELOW:

PHOTO CREDIT: RICK CUMMINGS

YOGA POSES FOR LEGS

AS ATHLETES WE USE OUR LEGS IN MOST EVERYTHING WE DO. TIGHT HAMSTRINGS CAN CAUSE FURTHER TIGHTNESS IN THE HIPS AND LOW BACK. TIGHT QUADS CAN CREATE AN IMBALANCE AND PAIN IN THE KNEES. TIGHT CALF MUSCLES COULD LEAD TO ISSUES IN THE FEET AND ANKLES.

HALF SPLITS

STEP YOUR RIGHT FOOT FORWARD BETWEEN YOUR HANDS. LOWER DOWN ONTO YOUR LEFT KNEE AND RELAX YOUR FOOT. STRAIGHTEN YOUR RIGHT LEG UNTIL YOU FEEL A STRETCH IN YOUR HAMSTRING. FLEX YOUR FOOT TOWARD YOUR FACE. KEEP YOUR HIPS SQAURE AND LENGTHEN YOUR SPINE ON THE INHALES. ON THE EXHALES TRY TO DEEPEN INTO THE STRETCH. STAY IN THE POSE FOR AT LEAST 5 DEEP BREATHS EACH SIDE. PICTURE BELOW:

PHOTO CREDIT: VALERIELATONA.COM

LUNGING QUADRICEPS STRETCHING POSE

START ON ALL FOURS IN A TABLE TOP POSITION. STEP YOUR RIGHT FOOT FORWARD BETWEEN YOUR HANDS. STACK YOUR KNEE OVER YOUR ANKLE. YOU CAN FOLD YOUR YOGA MAT OVER TO CREATE PADDING FOR YOUR LEFT KNEE. MOVE YOUR HIPS BACK TO GRAB YOUR LEFT FOOT WITH YOUR LEFT HAND, THEN MOVE YOUR HIPS FORWARD AND DOWN TO SINK INTO YOUR HIPS. PULL YOUR FOOT TOWARDS YOUR GLUTS TILL YOU FEEL A STRETCH IN YOUR QUAD. THIS POSE WILL ALSO HELP TO STRETCH THE FRONT OF YOUR HIP AND PSOAS MUSCLE. STAY IN THE POSE AT LEAST 5 DEEP BREATHS EACH SIDE. PHOTO BELOW:

PHOTO CREDIT: ACEFITNESS.ORG

DOWNWARD FACING DOG

COME ONTO ALL FOURS IN A TABLE TOP POSITION. SET YOUR KNEES BELOW YOUR HIPS AND YOUR HANDS SHOULDER WIDTH APART SLIGHTLY IN FRONT OF YOUR SHOULDERS. SPREAD YOUR PALMS WITH INDEX FINGERS FACING FORWARD. ROLL OVER YOUR TOES AND LIFT YOUR HIPS SO YOU ARE ON THE BALLS OF YOUR FEET. FEET SHOULD BE HIPS WIDTH APART. KNEES SLIGHTLY BENT OR BEND YOUR KNEES AS MUCH AS YOU NEED TO TO FIND A LONG SPINE. PRESS YOUR HEELS TOWARDS TO FLOOR. OPTION TO PEDDLE YOUR FEET TO FEEL A STRETCH IN YOUR CALF MUSCLES. OPTION TO SLIGHTLY PIGEON TOE YOUR FEET AS YOU PEDDLE YOUR FEET TO GET AN EVEN DEEPER STRETCH. OR JUST STAY STILL IN DOWN DOG TAKING DEEP FULL BODY BREATHS. KEEP LIFTING YOUR HIPS, PRESSING YOUR TAIL UP AND BACK AS YOUR HEELS PRESS TOWARDS THE FLOOR. HOLD FOR AT LEAST 5 DEEP BREATHS. PICTURE BELOW:

PHOTO CREDIT: JUICINGDIET.ORG

WRITTEN BY: Kelly McConnell, Certified Yoga Sculpt Teacher, Certified Sports Massage Therapist at www.fitandmindful.com

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