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For some athletes, yoga isn’t on the workout roster. In fact, for some, it’s not even on the workout brain. But yoga can be beneficial for every athlete; whether you’re into running, weightlifting, CrossFit, HIIT and more. Regardless of your training, it can assist your breathing control and muscle recovery when practiced regularly.
When you gently increase circulation (blood flow) to muscles, as you do while moving through yoga poses and focusing on breathing, oxygen is carried with it. Being purposeful with your breathing like this can therefore help you feel energized again and ready to tackle your next workout.
“Whether you do yoga directly following a hard workout or on a recovery day, it is a really important part of a balanced fitness routine,” Jillian McLaughlin Wirtz, certified yoga instructor, says. “The focus on breathing allows us to stretch and strengthen these muscles in a more mindful way rather than just repeating the same generic stretches.”
A combination of restorative and challenging poses is just the right pairing to relieve your muscles after training.
“Practicing yoga directly after a workout alleviates overall tension, expands blood flow to your muscles and ensures oxygen and nutrients energize your tissues,” Amanda Sacks, LMSW, 500-hour RYT, says. “If you have fifteen minutes after your workout, choose three to five yoga poses that you can deeply relax into.”
Here are some poses to try as you get into practicing yoga to complement your workouts.
7 Yoga Poses for Athletes
1. Downward Dog Pose
Begin on your hands and knees. Inhale and lift both knees up off the floor, raising your hips up to the ceiling. Exhale and push both arms straight, and push your heels toward the floor.
2. Supine Pigeon Pose
This stretch is also known as the figure-4 stretch. Begin lying on your back. Inhale and cross your right ankle over your left knee. Exhale and reach both hands up to pull your left thigh into your chest. Hold, release and repeat, the second time crossing your left ankle over your right knee.
3. Bridge Pose
Begin lying on your back with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Inhale and lift your hips up off the floor. Exhale and reach with both hands toward your heels.
4. Happy Baby Pose
Begin lying on your back. Inhale and lift both legs up with your knees into your chest. Exhale, and reach your right hand up to grab the outside of your right foot, and your left hand to hold your left foot. Move so your lower legs are perpendicular to the floor.
5. Supine Twist Pose
Begin lying on your back. Inhale and bring your right knee up toward your chest. Exhale and gently roll to your left, letting your knee fall down on your left side. Keep your left leg out straight. Place both arms straight out from your body to help you stabilize. Hold. Release, and repeat drawing your left knee up and over to your right side.
6. Legs Up the Wall Pose
This restorative pose allows you to rest at the same time. Lie down on your back with your hips close to the wall. Raise both legs straight up and then gently place on the wall, so they are perpendicular to your body. Inhale and slowly exhale.
7. Cat/Cow Pose
Begin on your hands and knees. Inhale and gently arch your back and lift your chin up. Exhale, round your back and tuck your chin into your chest.