Unless you're a ski enthuasiast, you're probably counting down the days until spring. Let's face it, although it's beautiful to look at, snow can be stressful...the shoveling, the commuting, and the kids home from school. Many of my students have enjoyed the relaxation benefits of yoga during these white months. But the practice does more than relax us, it can actually complement any sport we play. So whether you pack your trunk with...a baseball glove, vollyball or tennis racget, a colorful yoga mat can keep you at the top of your game. Here are five ways:
1) Yoga improves your balance. Through postures such as the Tree pose, you find your center. Many sports require instant reflexes. If you're off balance, it's harder to react in a split second.
2) Yoga increases mental focus. What makes a champion? Think about the Olympics. Usually, the athlete who was "most on" -focused- takes home the gold medal. No matter how long you practice a sport, unless your head is in the game, your body won't follow. And that's what yoga does...it connects mind to body to spirit. It's the winning recipe.
3) Yoga adds strength. In yoga, you lift your own body weight, and in many postures all the muscles are bing used at once. It goes without saying that you need to be strong in whatever sport you play. But yoga can also carry over into the gym. Pump the iron with a streched out body and a "can do " mind set, and you will be amazed at your performance.
4) Yoga makes you stand tall. It's not a coincidence that the poses are also called postures. Use yoga to strengthen and tone your core muscles and you wil stand taller and prouder. You will take this confidence with you in your sport. And your aligned spine will positively affect your agility.
5) Yoga makes you a good sport. On the mat, we "play". We come together as as community to learn from each other's strengths and weaknesses. This practice nurtures the spirit of cooperation and teamwork, and this makes for better sportsmanship.
As spring approaches, now is the perfect time to think about making some positive changes in your life. It is important to be the best YOU that you can be. Whatever your sport, add yoga to the mix and see how your game improves. So whether you ski the slopes, swing the club on the greens, sail the Great South Bay, pump the iron at the gym or serve the volleyball on the beach, add yoga. You'll enjoy your sport...and your winning moment.