Quite often, when an athlete decides to incorporate yoga, they just show up to the most convenient class for them, which can actually do more harm then good depending on where they are in their training.
If you are an athlete, you most likely have a yearly training schedule for your sport, or a schedule of your athletic season. With this probably includes, an off-season period, a building period, and a competitive or peak period. Your yoga practice should be a complement to your training, not a deterrent.
It is KEY, to keep an inverse relationship between the intensity of your training and the intensity of your yoga. Simply put, if you are in training camp for football, in the dead of summer, you should not be going to vigorous HOT YOGA classes…your body needs REST. Your yoga, if you choose to practice should be very restorative and calming. Think…gentle stretches, legs up the wall, low to the ground poses. Why? Because you are working so hard, your body needs to balance itself out and the nervous system needs to reset and relax.
OFF-SEASON– Your training will be light. You will be focusing on building strength and correcting any imbalances in your body. You may use yoga to help you come back from an injury). During the off-season your yoga can focus more on strength and building your range of motion.
MID-SEASON– As your training, practices, workouts, intensify, you will want to maintain flexibility through yoga. Your yoga should focus on stretching vs. strengthening. Core strength poses are always a good idea, they remain an exception. Focus on your areas of tightness, current, or from the past, whether it be shoulders, chest, upper back, or hips. Be mindful that your yoga is enhancing your recovery. Mellow is better.
IN-SEASON/ COMPETITIVE SEASON-This is time to SLOW DOWN your yoga. A little goes a long way. Do not over do it. As an athlete this is your time to FOCUS. That needs to be your FOCUS. Gentle and Restorative is the way to go. Simple breathing exercises and brief meditation work wonder for the competitive athletes ability to focus and center themselves.