Yoga for Strength, Recovery & Mental Health: The Benefits of Yoga

For skiers, snowboarders, rock climbers and runners, yoga can provide both mental and physical transformation by relieving stress, aiding in muscle recovery and injury recovery all while improving your strength and overall athletic performance.

Incorporating meditation, stretching, poses and breathing exercises, yoga concentrates on focusing the mind and body. So naturally, when yoga is performed alongside demanding extreme sports, it offers a holistic balance of wholesome calming and strengthening techniques which can enhance the performance of high exertion, physically demanding sports. Whether you’re a climber, runner, skier or snowboarder, yoga has something to offer you and brands such as Myga and Gaiam can help you to get kitted out as you delve into the world of yoga.

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Yoga for Skiing and Snowboarding

Skiing, snowboarding, and yoga may not seem like the most likely combination, and although very different to snowsports, yoga can help you adapt to life on the mountain. Some of the most popular skiing and snowboarding brands such as Mons Royale, Roxy and Patagonia even offer a versatile range of clothing that will have you feeling just as comfortable in the yoga studio as they do on the slopes.

- Balance and Strength

Balance and strength are key components of skiing and snowboarding, in particular having strong quads, hamstrings and hip flexors, and yoga can help with that. Yoga poses such as the chair pose, which closely mimics the position of a skier in ski boots, can help skiers condition their leg muscles and increase endurance for a longer, more carefree time spent on the piste. Snowboarders will also benefit from strengthening their core, legs and glutes via the chair pose and crescent pose as both can help with hip stability which is vital for effortlessly linking back to back turns. Performing these yoga poses regularly will improve balance which is vital for skiers and snowboarders alike. And it’s not just the lower body that needs assistance, poses such as the mountain, plank and downward dog can help to strengthen the upper body, increase your stamina and improve your posture to avoid any imbalances.

- Flexibility and Muscle Recovery

Just as building strength is important, avoiding common skiing and snowboarding injuries and relieving tight muscles is just as critical. Along with the more traditional knee and wrist protectors that provide extra protection, yoga can be an excellent solution for injury prevention. Increasing your flexibility helps to avoid the chances of common ski injuries such as knee strain, pulled muscles, sprains or fractures and can help you to focus on your weak spots to reduce the chance of injury. Keeping your legs strong and engaging your core are essential steps to avoiding injuries, but should the inevitable happen after a long day skiing on the mountain, yoga can provide a solution for that too. Yoga blocks can help to make yoga more accessible when recovering from an injury, helping you to stretch tight and sore muscles and target any problem areas to relieve pain from skiing or snowboarding.

- The Benefits of a Balance Board

For those that want to take their yoga workout to the next level, introducing a balance board such as the ever popular Indo Board to your exercise routine provides a much greater challenge for the committed skier or snowboarder. Balance training when incorporated into a yoga workout helps to draw your focus to your core strength and stability. Performing poses on an unstable surface can help to develop your strength, improve your breathing and hone your mental focus, getting you prepared for skiing or snowboarding on the slopes in no time.

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Yoga for Climbing

Just as yoga can help to prevent skiing and snowboarding injuries and improve strength and balance, you might be surprised to learn that yoga and climbing, although very different in practice, can actually complement each other just as well. And the crossover doesn’t stop there, Prana have a range of men’s clothing, women’s clothing and yoga accessories that will let you move seamlessly from the rock climbing wall to the yoga studio.

- Mental Focus and Breathing

Being in tune with your body means understanding the importance of breathing and for a rock climber can help with feeling strong and stable on the rock climbing wall. Yoga and Yogic breathing help to calm the mind and focus on the body, a skill that can help with keeping calm and focused in any hair-raising moments when rock climbing or bouldering, especially at the crux of the climb. Understanding how to use your breath correctly in yoga allows you to use your body and focus your mind correctly on the rock, leaving you feeling stable and strong no matter how far you climb.

- Flexibility and Strength

Yoga and climbing both require exceptional physical strength. Taking part in yoga and performing poses such as the downward dog, bow pose and the plank can help to build core strength and flexibility, essential for taking on the rock climbing wall and reaching the holds that are just within range. Along with building your general fitness levels, yoga can help to improve your flexibility, build body strength and aid with the release of tight muscles and joints after a day of climbing. By increasing your flexibility and strength, yoga helps to prevent common climbing injuries such as hyperextension of the joints, finger injuries, impact on the knees and swimmer’s elbow. Adding a yoga bolster to your yoga routine can also be beneficial in aligning the body, enabling you to release your back and open your rib cage for even deeper breathing. By correcting the imbalances in your body with yoga, you might just be able to climb better than you ever have before.

Take Up Yoga or Pilates
Take Up Yoga or Pilates

Yoga for Running

And runners, of course we haven’t forgotten about you. Like skiing, snowboarding and climbing, the benefits of yoga for runners can transform your athletic performance, helping to relieve muscle tension, improve flexibility and hone your focus on breathing techniques. Taking you from the yoga mat to the running track, Patagonia have got all bases covered for your exploration into yoga.

- Muscle Recovery and Injury Prevention

For runners, bad backs, tight muscles and runner’s knee may seem inevitable, but yoga can help to both prevent injuries and relieve pain, reducing the stress on your body that can result from running. Using yoga as a warm-up or cool-down technique can help to reduce the risk of injury and aid in the recovery of any tight or sore muscles. Poses such as the crescent lunge, the downward dog and the spinal twist improve flexibility and strength, targeting your core, quads, hamstrings and hip flexors. By doing these poses you can expect to both build muscle and increase your range of motion, and by adding a yoga strap you can achieve an even deeper stretch, essential for runners to avoid the risk of injury.

- Cardio, Fitness Levels and Stamina

Yoga doesn’t just have to be gentle and slow, and for runners keen to improve cardio, increase stamina and improve fitness levels, practices such as Bikram or Power yoga can provide the perfect way to get your daily exercise, get your heart rate up and build on your overall athletic performance. These more intense forms of yoga incorporate a fitness-based approach that will leave you feeling energised, will strengthen your heart and have you running faster and further.

The Benefits of Yoga for Mental Health

The benefits of yoga are vast, and when coupled with other sports such as skiing, snowboarding, climbing and running can help with all kinds of aspects from injury recovery to improving physical strength. Yet yoga is also an excellent way to understand the mind, helping to alleviate stress and anxiety and improving a person’s mental wellbeing. Yogic breathing centres around relaxation and meditation, helping you to calm your mind and focus on the body, leaving you feeling relaxed and positive. Yoga encourages health and wellbeing, both mental and physical, allowing you to become more focused on your goals, improving energy levels and positivity and improving your overall sporting performance.

So get out there and try it, all you need to get started is a yoga mat! The benefits might just change the way you look at yoga forever.

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