// Yoga for sports conditioning
by Kathy Popplewell
Yoga can make a great addition to almost every client’s fitness timetable, whether they are professional athletes, sports enthusiasts or a working mum or dad who wants to improve their overall health and fitness.
In the field of sports conditioning, yoga not only helps to balance strength, flexibility and stability, it can also be used as a form of cross training to improve athletic performance and as a self maintenance tool to reduce risk of injury and burnout.
The benefits of using yoga for sports conditioning include developing body awareness, lengthening tight muscles, balancing muscle strength and developing a calm and focused mind.
In addition to clients and members attending dedicated classes, you could introduce yoga sequences as a warm up, recovery or cool down within your training sessions. As you explore the options, you will discover that yoga is a fantastic sports conditioning tool and a great athletic workout within itself. With the many benefits of yoga now becoming widely recognised, many professional athletes and sporting teams are including it as an essential part of their training regime.
Standing yoga poses are great for both beginners and athletes as they use most of the major muscle groups and help participants develop a deeper sense of body awareness and control.
When working with new participants, remember to keep it simple. Instead of trying to instruct complicated postures that participants cannot perform and could get frustrated with, use basic postures (and include options for easy and advanced variations if appropriate), adding challenge by flowing the poses one after the other.
To get started, try the following sequence with your group class or sports conditioning clients, paying attention to the breathing during the movements.
Start standing with the feet hip-width apart and feet parallel, imagine you are standing on a set of train tracks (encourage participants to measure the hip width from hip bones not hip flesh). Stand tall, shoulders back and broad, breastbone lifted and tummy long and hollow (photo 1). As you inhale, float the arms overhead and balance on your toes (photo 2).
As you exhale bend the knees, stick your bottom back and tilt the upper body forward, bringing your hands together in front of your chest (photo 3).
Baby Backward Bend
Inhale as you push down through the soles of your feet as you stretch your whole body up and slightly back, keeping your hips centre and the weight even over both feet. Exhale as you return the hands to centre (photo 4).
Step or jump the feet apart and turn the big toes out to 45 degrees. As you exhale bend your knees until the ankles are directly under your knees. Open the pelvis while working the knees back, tucking the bottom under and lengthening through the top of your head with the shoulders broad. Breathe (photo 5).
As you inhale sweep the arms out to the sides and overhead, lengthen both legs and stretch tall through the whole body. Balance on your toes to add more challenge (photo 6).
Forward Bending Balance
Turn your big toes in, hand to hips and keeping the chest open. Exhale as you bend forward from your hip bones to half way, lengthening out through the top of your head. Inhale as you come back up (photo 7).
Turn the left foot out to 90 degrees and the right foot in slightly. Grip the leg muscles into the bones and reach the arms out at shoulder height. Inhale, reach to the left side and as you exhale take the left hand to the left leg, right arm up to the sky. Inhale as you come back up (photo 8).
Take the feet a little wider apart, and as you exhale bend the left knee, keeping the ankle directly under the knee. Allow the arms to continue to stretch out at shoulder height, but relax the shoulders away from the ears (photo 9).
Inhale, flip the left palm and reach for the sky, exhale as you sink deeper into your lunge, working to keep even weight on both feet (photo 10).
Return the arms to centre and exhale as you pivot onto the ball of the right foot, turning your hips to the left and taking the hands to the hips. To add more challenge as you inhale, bring the palms together and reach the arms overhead, stretching all the way up through the upper body, and back through the lower body (photo 11).
Exhale, sweeping the arms out to the sides and down to the floor on either side of the front foot. Inhale as you step the left foot back, placing the feet hip-width apart (photo 12).
As you exhale, lift the hips high to the sky and bend the knees slightly as you lengthen the spine and relax the head. Walk or jump the feet up to your hands and roll up through the spine back to standing. Repeat on other side (photo 13).
To watch this sequence in action and get a free video tutorial visit www.vibrance.com.au/fitnessnetwork
A lover of life, free spirit and mind body specialist, Kathy is passionate about helping people to live, love and laugh – naturally! She is currently sharing her love of yoga, laughter, dance and personal development by facilitating programs across Australia. Kathy is the founder of Tribal FyouSION and Vibrance, a business which helps people to transform stress into wellbeing naturally. To find out more visit www.vibrance.com.au or call 0405 147154.
NETWORK MAGAZINE • WINTER 2010 • PP27-30