Owning Your Power Through Yoga: Why Athletes of all levels should Introduce yoga to their wheelhouse of skill and activity.
Yoga Asana (physical postures) has become glorified in the USA and falsely represented by individuals with a specific aesthetic and body type. This could not be a more illusory representation of what yoga is and what yoga can offer to all ages, demographics and body types.
The core of yoga is to ‘yoke’ or to blend the mind, the body and spirit at all times as how we engage with ourselves and our life. Yoga is a state, not a destination.
We are seeing more athletes more than ever disclose that they use yoga, breath work and mindfulness practices to support them physically, mentally and spiritually. Olympic athletes have been paired with trained guides to lead them in powerful visualization meditations prior to their big debuts and use yoga asana to encourage optimal movement without pain or restriction.
You hear coaches command phrases like ‘get your head in the game’ and ‘one game at a time’ or ‘leave it all on the field’. These phrases acknowledge the volume of potential distractions and factors outside of our control both on and off the field (at all times). These common phrases are threads of encouragement for athletes to be fully present and engaged in the task at hand.
Yoga teaches us to step into our individual power and become curious and discerning with how we interact with the world and how we can have a positive impact in an intentional, present and heart centered way.
Yoga is more than just a physical expression of a pose, but rather a request for your presence, curiosity, willingness to fail/fall. The ‘practice of yoga’ teaches us determination, discernment and the discipline to show up (to your mat, on the field, but really for yourself) time and time again exactly as you are.
Below are some benefits of introducing a yoga or breath work practice into your athletic routine and how you might already be practicing yoga:
The apex of power is where strength meets flexibility
- Physical strength undeniably will excel you as an athlete, but without flexibility and dexterity we can hit some rough edges and limitations. Yoga teaches us to be limber mentally, and physically.
- It encourages us to explore how to move in a different way and how to stay connected to ourselves when we find ourselves in times or positions of discomfort
- Choice and willingness to explore discomfort and newness creates resiliency
Your Breath is your Power
- Learning how to breathe properly supports positive heart rate variability, respiration rate and gives your brain, fascia and muscles oxygen enriched blood to perform without unnecessary tension to your nervous system and soft tissue.
- To slow your heart rate down after activity or times of anxiety, focus on lengthening your exhales. You can do this by pretending to blow bubbles out of an imaginary straw.
- To interrupt an unwanted thought or center yourself from distraction: take a deep inhale - when we make an automatic process conscious it tricks our brain to shift focus and to attend to present moment of the breath.
Yoga influences the way we approach challenge
- Meditation and mindfulness practices encourage attributes like alert stillness, self-compassion and expansive awareness to detail.
- Mistakes, failure and falling are part of the process of development and evolution.
- Without these experiences, how much are we actively engaging in opportunities to grow?
Yoga is an active participation practice that requests honesty, humility and curiosity
- You don't know what you don't know, and when you know better-you do better.
You are the Player and the Coach; both teacher and student
- Because yoga is the marriage of mind, body and spirit, we are wearing multiple hats at once. Yoga takes on an amazing perspective of becoming the detached observer and participant. We learn to take pause and view ourselves objectively with both discernment and compassion
- When you spend time getting to know yourself more deeply you are equipped to communicate your needs more clearly. Communication is key in any successful relationship.
Yoga reminds us that our bodies are to be looked at and treated with utmost respect
- We have a body- we are not the body. Our body is a gift that carries us through this lifetime and allows us to do all the things we love most. Treat it as a gift and listen to how and when it communicates to you before it gets louder through pain or injury. when you need a sub- ask for one; give yourself the time to take pause to then re-enter the arena with energy and clarity.
Triad Athletes is leading the way of the modern mindful athlete by creating opportunities for their players to experience yoga and other self-development activities. The current wave of student athletes are empowered, tactful, heart centered and equip to contribute the legacy of what it means to be a female athlete.
About Casey Beare
Casey has been teaching yoga since 2015 and is near completion of her IATY 1000 Hour Yoga Therapy Certification. She is a lead facilitator in Sojourn Healing Collective's YTT program and an anatomy and physiology nerd. When she is not finding joy through movement and teaching or on the field with the San Diego Palms as #23, she is found most likely with an iced coffee in hand or at local concert or sunset view.
Casey can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for 1:1 Yoga Therapy sessions, Privates, Corporate Yoga Offerings, or at Sojourn Healing Collective for local community classes. Follow @cb_rad on IG for class postings, upcoming events and just more life!