Yoga In Professional Athletic Training
Over end July and August this year, we will see sportspersons of the world gather in London to once again seek to realise and keep the flame of that vision glowing.
Athletics that forms a major part of Olympics is a broad term and can be categorised into three groups namely – throwing events such as discus throw, javelin throw, shot put throw; jumping events such as pole vault, high/long jump and running or track events. Yoga can enhance performance in all the three categories
Training in yoga for such events simply means working on the different segments of fitness: flexibility, strength, endurance, balance and agility.
Artistic Yoga is all about working on these five aspects of fitness. Flexibility is a key component for all athletic events, be it long jump where the back arch is crucial to jumping the farthest distance or high jump where the player moves from the scissor to the flip
technique. Strong legs, especially the one with which the athlete pushes the ground, are also important.
For jumping events: Some yoga postures that can help develop strength in the legs and back are Veerabhadrasana, Utkatasana, Natrajasana, and Ustrasana. These postures, when practised on a regular basis, can hugely impact the performance of athletes in high jump,
long jump and pole vault.
For throwing events: The thrust in discus throw, javelin and shot put is all about allowing the entire force of the body to move to one hand. This involves the ability of an athlete to focus and get into the rhythm of the entire movement or the act of throwing. All meditation techniques in yoga such as Tratak, Bhumadi drishti and Nasika drishti can be of immense help. When it comes to the flow of the body and rhythm, Suryanamaskar can go a long way in aiding this. Upper body asanas such as Santolanasana and Bakasana are important for strengthening the arms.
For running events: Running is altogether a different kind of event. In running, there are three categories:
(a) Sprint (50 m/100 m)
(b) Mid-distance running (400 m/800 m)
(c) Long-distance running (5 km/10 km and more)
In the sprint as well as short-distance running, one needs explosive strength. Explosive strength can be developed by the holding of postures. This will result in a huge thrust of strength in the legs when the race begins with a gunshot and the lunge happens. In the pull-zone between 15 m to 30 m, the runners will be able to sustain the speed and in the finish-zone of 30 m to 50 m, they will be able to move much faster. This is all about strength training in yoga.
In long-distance running, one needs tremendous endurance and/or stamina. All breathing exercises such as Kapal-bhati, Bhastrika and Anulom-Vilom can work powerfully to build endurance. A hundred rounds of Suryanamaskar will bring about the rhythm required in the body, add much strength to the abdominal area and regulate the breathing while running. Meditation also helps achieve good reaction time for a good start.