by Ivan Boikov
Yoga is a great supplemental tool to take your fitness to a completely new level. More and more athletes swear by how including yoga into their training regimens improved their sports performance. Shaquille O’Neal, Grant Hill, Kevin Garnett, Eddy George, Shannon Sharpe, Ted Jonson, to name a few, use yoga as part of their training. And especially if you’re involved in weight training yoga makes a great choice for post workout stretching and/or for active recovery, because it’s a great stress buster, it increases energy and makes your body more flexible and supple. If you want to get the most out of your workouts you must do post workout stretching and, as I said earlier, yoga is a great choice for that. Another great benefit of yoga is that it prevents stiffness, injuries and can also shorten your recovery time in the long run.
So pick some of the poses (or asanas) listed bellow and use them for your post workout stretching and I also suggest do them on your days off for active recovery. Do ten inhales and exhales in each pose. Here are the exercises:
1) Adho Mukha Shvanasana - Downward Facing Dog. This exercise provides great overall stretch. It stretches your calves, hamstrings, opens your shoulders, stretches your spine and refreshes you. If you're in a real hurry, this asana can take the place of several stretches. Technique:
1. Come to your hands and knees with the wrists underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips.
2. Curl the toes under and push back raising the hips and straightening the legs.
3. Spread the fingers and ground down from the forearms into the fingertips.
4. Outwardly rotate the upper arms broadening the collarbones.
5. Let the head hang, move the shoulder blades away from the ears towards the hips.
6. Engage the quadriceps strongly to take the weight off the arms, making this a resting pose.
7. Rotate the thighs inward, keep the tail high and sink your heels towards the floor.
8. Check that the distance between your hands and feet is correct by coming forward to a plank position. The distance between the hands and feet should be the same in these two poses. Don’t step the feet toward the hands in Down Dog in order the get the heels to the floor. This will happen eventually as the muscles lengthen.
2) Uttanasana - Forward
stretches out your back. Bend
1. Stand straight, hands on hips. Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist. As you descend draw the front torso out of the groins and open the space between the pubis and top sternum. As in all the forward bends, the emphasis is on lengthening the front torso as you move more fully into the position.
2. If possible, with your knees straight, bring your palms or finger tips to the floor slightly in front of or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. If this isn't possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows. Press the heels firmly into the floor and lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling. Turn the top thighs slightly inward.
3. With each inhalation in the pose, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. In this way the torso oscillates almost imperceptibly with the breath. Let your head hang from the root of the neck, which is deep in the upper back, between the shoulder blades.
3) Malasana -
Pose opens up the hip joints, groin area and ankle joints. This pose is also good for the back pains and eases back aches for individuals who are runners or use their legs a lot. Garland
1. Come to stand with the feet little bit more then shoulder width apart.
2. Bend the knees, coming into a squat.
3. Try to keep the feet as close to parallel as possible.
4. Take the upper arms inside your knees and bend the elbows. Bring the palms together into the prayer position.
4) Jathara Parivartanasana - Lying Spinal Twist is one of the most relaxing methods of releasing your back.
1. Lye on your back and bring your arms out to the sides with the palms facing down in a T position. Bend both knees into the chest.
2. Exhale drop both knees over to the left side of your body, twisting the spine and low back. Slide the knees as close to the left arm as possible. Look at the right finger tips.
3. Keep the shoulders flat to the floor, close the eyes, and relax into the posture. Let gravity pull the knees down, so you do not have to use any effort in this posture.
4. To release: inhale and roll the hips back to the floor.
5. Repeat on other side.
5) Runner’s Lunge is also a good warm up, it gets your hips, back and legs energized.
1. Step into a lunge, hands on the mat on either side of your front foot, a straight line from your back heel to the crown of your head.
2. Press your back thigh skyward.
3. Hold for needed amount of breaths, and then change sides.
6) Triangle opens up the hamstrings and in a gentle but challenging way which makes this pose especially useful for athletes.
1. Take a wide stance, left toes toward the front of your mat, right toes turned in from perpendicular.
2. Shift your hips back and lower your torso over your front leg, placing your left hand on the mat behind your left foot.
3. Reach your right hand straight up, opening your chest, and look up at your right hand.
4. Hold for needed amount of breaths and repeat on the other side.
7) Mudhasana - Child's Pose is a great way to end your stretching session and it also can be done at any time if you want to take a break from the day’s pressures and calm your nerves.
1. Drop your knees to the floor from the Downward Facing Dog pose.
2. Spread the knees as wide as you can, keeping the big toes touching at the same time.
3. Bring the belly to rest between the thighs and the forehead to the floor.
4. There are two possible arm positions: Either stretch the arms in front of you with the palms toward the floor or bring the arms back alongside the thighs with the palms facing upwards. Do the one that feels more comfortable to you.