(NaturalNews) There are arguments against athletes' practicing yoga. The notion of developing flexibility seems contrary to developing the hard, strong muscles that some sports demand. But Rich Roll wishes he would have started earlier in his athletic career.
He has finished high in two ultra-man Hawaiian triathlons well into his 40s. The three phases of a triathlon are a long distance ocean swimming, bicycling, and marathon running. All phases are performed sequentially within the same time frame.
According to Rich, "every athlete - irrespective of sport or discipline - has the potential to enhance his or her ability by adopting a consistent yoga practice."
Five ways an athlete may benefit from practicing yoga
(1) Core strength. A former college and club rugby player, kick boxer, and workout junkie has recently become a yoga instructor. He was pleasantly surprised that his core strength had increased during the course of his yoga practice.
For the most part, core strength involves the transversus abdominus, the muscular belt that wraps around the torso under visible muscles. This is not just abs. It's deeper, and it includes back strength as well.
Usually, core strength is ignored. Certain muscle groups get attention according to an athletic endeavor's demands. But core strength is vital for connecting the upper and lower body's overall strength and energy.
(2)Body awareness. This same former hard hitting jock also had come to an increased body awareness. He feels that it is helpful for enhancing performance and being able to read the body's stress signals during competition. This leads to not overextending yourself and avoiding injury.
(3) Balance. Several yoga poses (asanas) focus on balance. Good balance is central to good coordination. Many good running backs in football are noticeably well balanced, spinning and weaving while avoiding being tackled, for instance.
Enhanced performance and agility can be achieved from practicing yoga for other positions and sports with an improved sense of balance.
(4)Flexibility. Strong, flexible joints have obvious performance benefits in any sport. Yoga helps increase joint flexibility with strength, which tends to decline with age. Except for swimming, most other sports are hard on knees, ankles, wrists, and shoulders.
Many athletes are forced into early retirement or at least sidelined from time to time with joint sprains and injuries to those joints with their associated tendons and muscles. Yoga can help prevent that.
(5) Relaxed mind and body. Unlike so many who undertake yoga lessons, Rich Roll considers the most ignored and taken most lightly asana (pose) the most important. It's the last and most meditative, which occurs at the completion of moving into different postures. It's called savasana or corpse pose.
He cites this pose as most helpful for eventually gaining control of the mind, which he considers what separates the winners from the losers. The corpse pose also allows you to eventually relax every muscle in the body completely.