Yoga and Sport: How to take care of your joints
Yoga has been molding the minds and bodies of practicioners for many years now and has more recently found more of a foothold in the sports and excercise phenom of our modern society. Despite the determined pursuit of the long, lean yoga body, others are finding some different reasons to try their hand at yoga and I will tell you why.
Here it is, you heard it here first – Yoga is one of those key things in life, like diet and excercise, that every single person can derive benefit from. That is right, everyone could use a little yoga. Call me a fanatic or call me an extremist if you like, but yoga is one of the greatest tools a person can carry in their tool bag of life.
Like how taking vitamins supplements your body with the nutrients that your diet may be lacking, yoga supplements your body by stretching, lengthening and toning of muscles while simultaneously helping you achieve a healthy, balanced body and mind.
Yoga can be practiced on its own or in combination with other sports, and has been found to increase stamina, build strength, and improve performance in other physical pursuits. Since yoga is low impact and has low risk of injury, it is a wonderful option for people of all shapes and sizes and also is tremendous for those who may have suffered sports related (or other) injuries. The mobility and flexibility that asana strives to bring to the body can help tremendously with healing or recovering from injuries large and small, and is one of the greatest tools we can use in strengthening our bodies.
All this being said, one of the key teachings in yogic philosophy is to listen to your body. Many athletes have become accustomed to pushing and pushing until they cannot push anymore.
In yoga, the same mentality does not fit within our ancient philosophy. Instead, as yoga instructors and yogis, we are told to push only as far and as hard as our body allows us without causing physical pain or strain. We do push ourselves, otherwise we would know no growth, however we are constantly pushing ourselves to deepen our practice, strengthen our bodies, and ease our minds in a more gentle and thoughtful way. Our body aims to communicate with us in many different ways. The way we feel on a day to day basis: our digestive health, our energy, our stamina, pain, etc; all of these things are based on important messages our body relays to us on a non-stop basis in order to communicate what it needs from us. Whether that be excercise, food, vitamins, water, or perhaps yoga.
By becoming more aware of what our body is asking of us and by listening to our own limitations, we are able to tailor a habit and routine in our daily lives that will allow us to carry on for years to come. A regular, balanced yoga practice is tremendous for bone, muscle and joint health and the benefits for the mind are innumerable. Yoga is not limited to the practices like vinyasa, ashtanga, bikram, or other widely known styles and there are many different types of yoga that one can get involved in based on their own specific needs. Some of us are looking to increase flexibility, others are looking for meditative benefits, and others seek to build deep strength; and all of us have different styles and teachers who are most suitable for our needs. Researching different practices allows you to tailor your routine to see your desired benefits even more.
So there you have it. The best advice I can give you as a yoga teacher, practitioner, and convert. With a little awareness and some limited research, you can be on the path to ultimate health. By tuning in to your health, your body, and your mind, you are giving yourself and your body one of the greatest gifts of this world and treating it as the temple we know it to be.
By Meagan Marie Klein