What is Sports Yoga?
Stretch. Stability. Flexibility.
Sports Yoga is a range of yoga-inspired exercises designed to help sportsmen and sportswomen at all levels improve performance in their chosen sport, avoid injury where possible and improve recovery times. Time spent in a regular programme of stretching (and strengthening) is future-proofing performance and will minimise your downtime!
The idea is to keep you moving fluidly, building a stronger you – not just flexibility in muscles that feel tight from activity, but whole-body flexibility, core work and improved functional movement.
The focus of Sports Yoga is the sport rather than the form of yoga.
Sport training focuses on movements designed around the requirements of the sport and can be very repetitive. Sports Yoga is whole-body flexibility and functional movement training. Specific sports training may also isolate development to individual muscles groups and can leave out parts (joints, connective tissue etc) necessary for complete, healthy, functional movement.
Why is Sports Yoga different?
There are similarities between yoga and Sports Yoga sessions; these are mainly around the body work. There are differences too – less emphasis on different forms of breathing and omission of yoga philosophy – for example, the eight limb yoga path is not included.
In Sports Yoga we are looking to enhance functional movement and improve whole-body flexibility and core, to move freely and efficiently. This can increase stamina and functional strength as well as reducing injuries related to over-use, restricted movement or core weakness.
Who’s it for?
Sports Yoga works on either a group or individual level. Programmes are designed by Sports Yoga accredited teachers around an individual’s and/or group’s requirements and the sport they participate in. This is achieved through specific muscle tests to assess range of motion as well as yoga based exercise to improve the three key areas of strength, stability and flexibility.
Routines can be as long as an hour or as short as 10/15 minutes. Sports Yoga routines and exercises can be used as part of preparation for regular exercise, warming up and/or warming down.
Any sport – any level.
I trained with Sarah Ramsden and I hold a separate and additional teaching qualification in Sports Yoga. Sarah is well known for training Ryan Giggs and more widely for introducing Sports Yoga across a number of professional sports and other disciplines.
Although designed for Sportspeople, Sports Yoga is useful for yogis too, as a complement to their existing practice. Think of Sports Yoga as part of a wider training programme.
Benefits of Sports Yoga
Training inspired by yoga enables easy, flexible movement and reduces the risk of injury. In Sports Yoga we are looking to develop and re-balance three key areas of Stability, Strength and Flexibility. This will enable:
- Correct movement patterning
- Core stability to support pelvis and back
- Skeletal and Muscle balance and alignment
- Improved stride length in appropriate sports
- Reduced injury and improved recovery times from injury
Of course, some injuries in sport are unavoidable and may hurt!. The intention behind Sports Yoga is primarily helping to reduce the effect of chronic injury and improve recovery.
What to expect
We follow a similar structure or order to any exercise session – generally along the following lines:
- Exercises to warm up the body
- Strength and Stability exercises
- Gliding and Flexibility exercises
- A short cool down/relaxation to finish
Within your session different exercises will be introduced to explore different elements of Stretch, Stability and Flexibility both using dynamic and static exercises. Most teacher-led sessions are around an hour. Every exercise will have options to modify to allow you to progress to more challenging options. Always use the option that works for your body at that moment and you can build up gradually over the course of time.
Shirley is a qualified yoga teacher and a qualified Sports Yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance Professionals working in Crowborough and surrounding areas. She runs two Sports Yoga classes in Crowborough on Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings.
More about Shirley.