I've written before about how yoga is great non-jarring exercise for my over-40 body and how it helps me maintain inner peace as a daily morning practice. But another benefit to a regular yoga practice is that I'm able to better participate in other activities because of it.
Yoga trains the body, mind & spirit to become strong and flexible, release stress and create inner peace, while developing a deep connection with ones spirit, intuition and personal power. All of these are essential for living a healthy balanced life and for the athlete to play a healthy balanced strong game.
A regular yoga practice lasts from 30 minutes to an hour and a half long. Poses are held for several breaths so that muscles and deep connective tissue are simultaneously stretched and strengthened giving them a rubber band memory not achieved in traditional exercise. This is of very important as the connective tissue attaches muscle to bone and stabilizes all of the joints preventing or minimizing injury when our bodies are in action.
On a recent jog on a nature trail, I rolled my ankle on an unseen root. It wasn't just a little thing, either. As my ankle popped out to the left and my foot came off of the ground, I panicked. Having broken the other ankle in the past, I knew what an injury to that part of my body meant. I immediately sat on a log to prevent any further damage and to rub it out, but after the initial sting, it didn't really hurt any more. A couple minutes later, I was standing back up and walking back into a jog. I attribute that quick recovery to the work I've done on the mat.
Another thing I love to do is Stand Up Paddle. It's one of those sports that looks way easier than it actually is. The first time I popped up on a paddle board, I had no problem. The friend who I went paddling with said he never saw anyone just hop up and go on the first try. I said, "Hey... I do yoga." And then I smiled as I paddled out past him.
Being a kid at heart, I spend a lot of time on wheels. Bikes, skateboards, rollerblades... all of those are a lot easier to enjoy with the help of my regular yoga practice. Do you know how good it feels to be able to skateboard down the sidewalk with your kids? Or skate as fast as you can on a bike path? Or ride a bike along the coast with the ocean breeze on your face? It feels REALLY REALLY GOOD! I don't want to stop riding and skating and running just yet. I want to stay young and I want to feel young. Yoga is my secret... my fountain of youth.
Yoga itself is a great form of exercise. It's not aerobic exercise, but it does burn a lot of calories. Not to mention keeping trouble spots toned and strong and being a great way to lose weight. But being able to minimize injury while I remain active in other parts of my life is a real win for me with yoga.
This post was written as part of a series for MyYogaOnline. If you don't have time to get to a yoga studio for a class, you can always get to one on-line. And as part of GaiamTV, members have access to an abundance of videos for life and reflection. If you want to stay physically and mentally fit, but don't think you have the time... you do.