What do athletes get out of yoga?

football player doing tree pose
basketball players doing extended side angle

Performance Yoga for Cyclists & Runners, held in Woodstock last Saturday, went really well. Light bulbs went off in their heads when they realized how a new yoga concept could help their sport. They got it. I live for the feeling that I’ve helped someone. It is my purpose.

If all athletes only knew what yoga can do for them! I decided to blog about why yoga is so good, even necessary, for athletes!

What does yoga do for the athlete?


It integrates the mind and body leading to an ability to attain "flow state," by synchronizing the breath and the movements. This is mindfulness in movement by staying in the present moment.


It teaches the athlete to listen and observe the mindbody. Some athletes are a taught to ignore signals from the body in the No Pain No Gain training technique that often leads to injury. Instead of using electronic devices to monitor biometrics, such as heart rate, yoga’s inherent self-monitoring allows the athlete to progress at a natural and beneficial pace. A complete focus on what is happening in the body, as the poses are held, leads to an awareness of subtle, energetic processes within the body.


It brings the body into balance. It strengthens neuromuscular patterns crucial to one’s sport and also those underused patterns needed for muscular balance and to prevent repetitive motion syndromes. It trains the body on all the planes of movement: sagittal (front to back), coronal (sideways), and transverse (twisting).


It aids recovery and reduces stress.


It develops concentration and focus, by training the mind and body to stay on one thing, i.e., the present moment and avoid distractions. An athlete will develop an ability to stay with discomfort and pain.

Yoga for athletes is not always strenuous, as the training for their particular sport provides the cardio and endurance training necessary. It also takes into consideration the point in the training cycle, varying the balance of strength, flexibility, and recovery.

Why do professional sports teams have yoga classes? because they realize its value. Do you recognize any of these names?

  • Shaquille O'Neal, former NBA player
  • LeBron James, forward for the Miami Heat
  • Ray Lewis, linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens
  • Victor Cruz, wide receiver for the New York Giants
  • Mike Krzyzewski, men's basketball coach
  • New Zealand All Blacks, rugby team
  • Evan Longoria, third baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays
  • Kevin Garnett, forward for the Boston Celtics
  • Vernon Davis, tight end for the San Francisco 49ers
  • Kevin Love, forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves

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