Yoga for Sports
When devising a group Yoga session, the unique needs and goals of the group are assessed in order to carefully select the tools of Yoga to optimize performance. I have provided my breakdown of how I analyzed the needs of a competitive baseball team.
- Asymmetry with demands of hitting, pitching, throwing, running bases, etc
- Tight hamstrings
- Tight internal rotation of arms from hitting, pitching, throwing
- Strain of shoulder joint from overuse
- Pressure and stress to perform both self imposed and by team/coaches/parents
Focus of Yoga
- Body awareness and symmetry
- Stretch hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, and shoulder joint, open pelvis and open chest
- Stabilize shoulder joint and strengthen core
- Mobility and rotation in spine/core- rotation for hitting, throwing, etc
- Balance poses to increase ability to reach out of their base of support and helps to focus their mind
- Partner poses for teamwork and trust
- Slow, deep breaths to help trigger relaxation response and calm nervous system when under pressure to help them think clearly and make decisions
- Specific breathing technique was chosen for this group called Bhramari or “bee breath”, to do before they went out on defense or before they went to bat. The team name was the Scarborough Stingers and therefore the bee breath made it fun and applicable. A little background; sound is used because it forces one to take a big deep breath in and then sound is made on the exhale which supports a longer exhale which in turn triggers the relaxation response in the nervous system. Also, you can’t think and make sound at the same time so the sound cancels out any negative self talk and helps to refocus. The true method of bee breath is to close your ears with your thumbs and eyes with your 1st and 2nd fingers and buzz on the exhale as long as you can. The boys liked the bee breath and did it during their Yoga sessions.
- Visualizations used during Yoga; A) sitting in dug out, being on deck, walking to the plate, setting up to hit B) while on defence: standing in ready position, ball is hit to them, catching and responding fast and effectively C) Standing on the pitching mound, visualizing the small spot on the inside of the catcher’s mitt.