We are now coming to the end of our YTT with only one more week left at Prana Yoga Studio. Hopefully from these posts so far you got a bit of a taste of the numerous benefits yoga can offer. Not only did it help personal growth but also my running performance too. Obviously yoga is great for stretching, increasing mobilization and strength but I want to touch on some of the elements that yoga has enhanced for my performance besides the obvious physical ones…
1) Chest opening:
By strengthening the back muscles more and mobilizing the shoulders through practices, my shoulders have began to release from the common falling forward position. Instead they have been drawn back more, opening up the clavicle region and hence allowing more room in the rib cage to expand for the lungs. More expansion of the lungs more room for full inhale and exhales which makes all the difference during a grinding interval workout or at the top of a hill after a sprint.
I touched on this a bit before in previous posts by I think this one is huge. Whether it be elongating, deepening, or holding the breath…yoga has shocked me on how much it has allowed me to begin to control my breath. Nostril breathing is an essential part of yoga and this is fantastic for endurance athletes as it teaches you to be able to keep breathing as you’re eating on a run, bike, or whatever, while not having to huff and puff between bites. All of these breaths also play a key role in lowering the heart rate and easing a busy mind.
We were lucky enough in our YTT to be taught meditation. I won’t touch much on this since I already did here: How to Create a Positive Mind for a Positive Performance. Pretty much, like the ever growing research about meditation is saying…it’s pretty awesome. The benefits can be astounding no matter where you are in life.
After every YTT weekend it feels as almost I had an intensive appointment at my chiropractor’s office. All the twisting, bending, folding, etc. and verbal cues have started to stack my body in the appropriate places. This has positively affected my gait for running. Having the head drawn back a bit so to stacked on top of neck, makes it feel weightless. Having the hips become more open, makes my knees stay in better alignment while running. The list can go on and on!
5) Ahimsa or Non-harming:
Ahimsa, meaning non-harming, is the first of the yoga Yamas (principles to live by). This was one of the hardest aspects I had to learn from YTT. To know when to relax and surrender versus strive and push was a difficult part for me. Not only in training did I always want to push myself to my maxes, but even in yoga before I would strive to hit every advanced physical posture option given. There’s a time and a place for that but there also needs to be a time for relaxing or focusing on something else besides the physical all the time so as not to harm your body by pushing it to it’s limits in everything. My recovery after learning to incorporate this sense of ease and surrender has improved significantly.
Hopefully this kind of gives you an overview on some more areas, besides the obvious physical, that yoga can help enhance for an athlete.
Namaste!! – Mel
Check out more on the journey to becoming a yoga teacher…