Guest Post By Yuri Elkaim
Think Downward Dog and Cat Pose is stuff for sissies? Think again. You may be hitting the gym hard, spending hours on the court, but skimp on the stretching and you’ll never reach your A-game.
Yoga hasn’t been used for thousands of years by women only. It’s not just for old people that live in Asia. It’s actually a tool that’s helped millions of men, monks, and—yes—even elite athletes find their focus, get strong, and discover their ultimate ability.
Tap into the age-old wisdom of yoga, and you’ll find a whole new level of strength, conditioning, and power that you didn’t know you had. Here are five reasons to give yoga a try. Once you add it to your weekly workouts, you’ll discover a dozen other benefits.
You’ll Get Hurt Less
Don’t be the dude sidelined by injuries. There’s nothing worse than watching the game from the bench, or babying that shoulder or bum knee while everyone else kills it at the gym.
Yoga can actually keep you from getting injured. One study showed that players who stretched regularly suffered fewer injuries. Other studies have found an increase of groin injuries and knee pain in players who don’t stretch. Youch.
You’ll Last Longer
Want to increase your endurance, speed, and playing time? Nobody in the NBA has ever played more than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 57,446 minutes of playtime. At 7-feet-2”, Jabbar was one big man. In a league that has seen big guys routinely break down, Jabbar’s 20 year career is truly remarkable. One of his performance and longevity secrets? Yoga.
If you want a body that can play hard, you’ve also got to give it support, strength conditioning, and stretching. Yoga will give you of all three. Add it to your routine a couple times a week, and you’ll get several hours of stretching that’ll stretch your game days into game years.
You’ll Recover Faster
A 2004 study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research showed that even just a SINGLE yoga session reduced the muscle soreness experienced by women following a bout of intense exercise.
Add yoga after your own intense workouts and you’ll feel faster, more supple, and more ready for the next go ‘round. Yoga will help you hit all those parts that suck to stretch—hip flexors, hamstrings, lower back, IT bands—helping you work them in a way that’s therapeutic, relaxing, and measurably helpful for recovery.
You’ll Get Focused
You’ve heard for years that you have to visualize your success as an athlete. Yoga carves out time and space to meditate. It lets you revisit your goals in your mind. It lets you focus on the internal part of being a successful, focused athlete. It slows down the manic pace of training and gives you time to free up some mental bandwidth.
In her groundbreaking study shared via TED Talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are”, Harvard professor Amy Cuddy reports that two minutes of “power poses”—many which are used throughout a yoga session—actually raise testosterone levels and lower cortisol levels.
What does that means for you? More self-assurance, less reactive stress. After yoga, you’ll be more ready than ever for the big moments—whether they’re at the office or on the ice.
You’ll Get Girls
Alright, there’s no guaranteed promise here. But, have you ever seen a yoga studio that isn’t crawling with ladies? Get yourself into a few classes, and your girl-to-guy social scene just got a serious boost. Chances are good that you’ll meet a few new friends, and you may even meet that yoga queen of your dreams.
Of course, yoga isn’t about the pick up. It’s really about the pick me up. Add it to your weekly workout, and you’ll see and feel lasting results. That’s one promise I can guarantee.
Yoga For Guys
Want to add yoga to your workout routine, but don’t want to feel like a noob? Yuri’s Yoga for Athletes is a great way to get started. Specifically designed to support high-intensity training, the program make it easy to learn yoga basics and start seeing the benefits immediately.
ABOUT YURI – Yuri Elkaim is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Certiﬁed Kinesiologist, a former professional soccer player, and the Strength & Conditioning Coach for the men’s soccer program at the University of Toronto. Learn more about his Yoga for Athletes here.