I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeeded.” – Michael Jordan, former American basketball player
Dedication, practice and sheer love of the game has made many professional athletes reach the pinnacle during their career. Even today, athletes spend hours practicing and improving their performance. Every day, new records are set and the bar is raised. Every new record set means more stress on the athlete to achieve the top spot or maintain their position there.
Athletes are in one of the most physically and mentally stressful profession, where even a split-second’s difference changes a lot of things. Further, every sport comes with its own set of risks, and athletics is no different. Pole-vaulters, sprinters, javelin-throwers and all others are always at a risk of sustaining injuries that might hamper their performance. So how does one keep raising the bar and yet keep away from the pitfalls? Amongst the variety of options available today, yoga is probably the oldest and one of the most reliable ones.
Yoga – The reliable answer
Yoga is an ancient practice that promotes good physical and mental health through postures and breathing techniques. Today, yoga is practiced by a lot of celebrities, athletes, business tycoons and even the common man. Many American football and basketball teams encourage practicing yoga to minimize the injuries their players sustain during games. A few hours spent learning yoga at your local Art of Living Yoga course can equip you with amazing endurance building and body strengthening postures. Let’s have a look at a few postures that can help any professional or budding athlete improve their performance:
1. Kapal Bhati pranayama (Skull Shining breathing technique)
The Skull Shining breathing technique helps energize the body by clearing the naadis (subtle energy channels) and also improves blood circulation. This pranayama also aids in rejuvenating the brain cells while also uplifting the mind. A calm mind can be more focussed, just what every athlete wants.
2. Bhramari pranayama (Bee Breath)
Nothing can be more disastrous for an athlete than low self-confidence and anxiety. The Bee Breath ensures that you don’t face either of these. This pranayama also improves concentration and helps reduce blood pressure.
3. Veerbhadrasana (Warrior pose)
The Warrior pose strengthen and tones the arms, legs and lower back. It boosts stamina and also improves the balance in the body. This yoga posture also brings courage and peace to the practitioner – a perfect and fitting posture for every athlete.
4. Dhanurasana (Bow pose)
The Bow pose tones the arms and legs, and also adds flexibility to the back. It is a very effective stress and fatigue buster and thus a good yoga posture for every athlete.
5. Utkatasana (Chair pose)
This yoga posture exercises the spine, hips and chest muscles. It also tones the thigh, ankle, leg and knee muscles while adding strength to the lower back and torso region. The Chair pose also balances the body and helps bring determination in the mind.
6. Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
The Cobra pose is beneficial for any athlete who wishes to have a stronger back and shoulders. This yoga posture also improves blood circulation and aids in reducing fatigue and stress.
7. Shishuasana (Child pose)
The Child pose relaxes the back and calms down the nervous system. It is a very effective posture to repose in after going through the above mentioned postures.
8. Shavasana (Corpse pose)
The Corpse pose is the final yoga posture in the series as it relaxes the body and brings a deep, meditative state of rest. The body is rejuvenated by this posture and is also relieved of any anxiety or stress. As an athlete, this posture can also be practiced after training to relax the body.
Enhance your yoga practice!
Yoga keeps the body and mind fresh by reposing in different postures and practicing breathing techniques. But that’s just the first step. You can further enhance your abilities by incorporating meditation in your training. Various researches point out that meditation helps break barriers and reinforces confidence and clarity in the mind. You can learn more about meditation and its effect here.
Failures are stepping stones to success
Success and failures are a part of an athlete’s life. Look upon any failure as an opportunity to improve and grow. And similarly, look upon any victory as the result of your hard work and dedication. Keep practicing and don’t lose hope even when you stumble upon small failures. An open mind can accept ups and downs easily and is generally saved from mental turmoil.
No pain, no gain!
A regular practice of yoga will ensure good health, fresh mind and better results on the track. Like any other practice, the effects of yoga take time to manifest. So don’t lose hope and keep practicing. Doing yoga in groups is also another way of keeping each other motivated and building team-spirit. You can also club your yoga sessions with a short meditation to relax better after a hard day of practice. Always remember, practice makes a man perfect. So buckle up and get started!
Yoga practice helps develop the body and mind bringing a lot of health benefits yet is not a substitute for medicine. It is important to learn and practice yoga postures under the supervision of a trained Art of Living Yoga teacher. In case of any medical condition, practice yoga postures after consulting a doctor and a Art of Living Yoga teacher. Find a Art of Living Yoga course at an Art of Living Center near you. Do you need information on courses or share feedback? Write to us [email protected]