The following appeared in the weekly newsletter for One Yoga, a non-profit yoga studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Look here for more detailed yoga posts in future weeks.
In endurance sports, there are more training aids and philosophies than there are training sessions to try them. As an endurance sport coach and functional strength trainer, my job is to cut through the gimmicks and find what strategies make swimmers, bikers, runners and triathletes faster and help them recover quicker. Yoga is one of those strategies.
Physically, yoga helps endurance athletes in a couple ways. First, it builds flexibility, and elastic muscles are less likely to be injured. Limber bodies are also able to take better advantage of more aero- and hydrodynamic positions while biking and swimming.
Further, yoga helps build stabilizing muscles. Athletes spend too much time focusing on the big “mover” muscle groups, completing exercises such as squats or bench press. Yoga builds muscles that stabilize the body throughout its range of motion to maintain proper form.
Mentally, yoga provides an opportunity to slow down and build a greater mind-body connection. This is no small feat. Far too many athletes are part of Generation iPod, mentally detaching and sacrificing performance. Yoga brings back that mind-body awareness.
The qualitative feedback from my athletes has been positive. One Ironman triathlete lauded my “unorthodox methods” while another aging marathoner recently called yoga his “personal fountain of youth.” Year to date my clients have claimed 14 podium spots and several bids to the USA Triathlon National Age Group Championships. While it is not the only variable to give credit for these performances, yoga is here to stay for my athletes.