Yoga Poses for Athletes


Yoga Poses for Athletes

Yoga is a great exercise for athletes since it requires concentric shortening and eccentric lengthening contractions of your muscles simultaneously as you stretch, making your stretches active and dynamic; extremely effective for athletes. Step out wide on your mat. Turn the left toes in and the right toes out. Bend your right knee to 90 degrees. Take a deep breath in, exhale to lower the right hand to the inside of the right foot. Extend the left arm up and over your head, getting the elbows straight, reaching away with your fingers. Exhale and lower the shoulder away from your hear, creating more space between your left shoulder and your left ear. Hold the pose for three to six long and deep breaths. Take an inhale and come to a standing position, extend the right knee and bring the feet back together.

Stretch That Works the Deltoid


Stretch That Works the Deltoid

The deltoid is a big muscle that sits on top of your shoulder. A stretch called Reverse Namaste will help you open your chest and shoulder, working the deltoid, strengthening and stretching it. Bring your hands together behind your back, on your sacrum. Flip your hands to open the palms towards the ceiling. Move the fingers towards the ceiling and then flip the palms, again, pressing them together. Walk your fingers up your back, towards your shoulder blades. Squeeze the shoulder blades back, moving the elbows and the shoulders back, opening your chest, shoulders, and working your deltoids. Inhale deeply. As you exhale, move the shoulder blades and elbows back a little bit further. Continue to inhale and expand the rib cage. Exhale, move the shoulder, shoulder blades, and shoulders back a little bit further. Continue for another three breaths and then do it one or two more times.

Chest Opening Stretches With A Belt

Since most of us sit and stand with our shoulders rounded forward, our pec muscles shorten. By stretching the pec muscles, you’ll be able to open your chest, improve the range of motion of your shoulders and help your posture. Grab a belt and place your hands fairly wide on the belt. You’re going to lift the belt up and over your head, stretching out your pec muscles. And then, bring it  forward. Bring your hands a little bit closer and repeat bringing the belt up and over your head. Return to the starting position. Keep doing that, walking your hands in, inching them towards each other every time you bring the belt back to the starting position. This will help stretch out your pec muscles, open your chest and improve the range of motion of your shoulders. You want to do this for 30 seconds to a minute, two to three times.

 

Reflexology and the Psoas


Reflexology and the Psoas

Reflexology is a massage therapy technique that uses the nerve endings of your feet to stimulate certain organs and muscles. The psoas is a hip flexor muscle that brings the knee up towards your chest. The psoas tends to be real achy on some people, especially those that sit for long periods of time. But, a simple reflexology technique will help you stimulate and treat your psoas. Grab your left foot and flip the sole of the foot towards your face. Take your thumbs to the medial and lateral portions of your foot, right where the heel meets the arches. Slowly start to massage the foot in that area. I prefer to use shea butter. It’s very tacky and it’s very soothing on your skin. Massage this area for about three to five minutes, and then, switch to the other foot.

Daily Asana (Yoga Pose): Creative Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Forward Fold/Bend Pose)

Janu Sirsasana

Concentric Contractions:

  • Quadriceps of Extended Leg
  • Tibialis Anterior
  • Hamstring of Flexed Leg
  • Adbominals
  • Anterior Deltoid (when arms stretched and extended forward)
  • Pec Major and Minor (when arms stretched and extended forward)
  • Supraspinatus (when arms stretched and extended forward)

Eccentric Contractions (Lengthening):

  • Hamstring of Extended Leg
  • Gastrocnemius of Extended Leg
  • Soleus
  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Erector Spinae Group
  • Quariceps of Flexed Leg (minus upper fibers of rectus femoris)
  • Posterior Deltoid (when arms stretched and extended forward)
  • Infraspintus (when arms stretched and extended forward)
  • Teres Majr and Minor (when arms stretched and extended forward)
  • Lattissimus Dorsi
  • Subscapularis (when arms stretched and extended forward)

(anatomy pics coming soon!)

Benefits:

  • Alleviated chronic headaches, migraines, eye strain and angina pain.
  • Helps regulate the thyroid gland.
  • Relieves menstrual cramps.
  • Can help prevent fibroids.

Modifications:

  • If your back muscles are really tight, sit on a blanket or a stack of blankets. This will help with anterior pelvic rotation and make the pose more accessible.
  • If you hamstrings are really tight, place blanket(s) underneath your knee. This will help you get into the pose.
  • You can also place a chair over your legs and place your arms on the chair. Place your forehead on a bolster and stacked blankets. This will make the pose more comfortable, allowing you to hold the pose for a longer period of time.

(pics of modifications coming soon!)

Variations:

  • Place around in this pose. Notice that if you add a twist, it will stretch out your obliques. If you get really deep in the twist, you can even get the psoas.
  • If you walk you hands away from from your legs, you will get deeper into the QL (quadrates lomborum).

(pics of variations coming soon!)

Alignment Cues:

The tendency in this pose is to collapse and compress chest forward. Work hard to lengthen the spine. Remember, the intention is to create space in between your vertebrae, equally in the front and back. So you want to be elongating your spine. Not compressing the front and only lengthening the back. To do this reach your sternum forward, slightly tuck your chin in, and reach forward with the top of your head.

Video:

References:

Self Practice

Visible Body: Muscle Premium 

Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health; B.K.S. Iyenagr

Daily Asana (Yoga Pose): Urdhva Dhanurasana (Bridge Pose)

Concentric Contractions:

  • Quadriceps
  • Erector Spinae Grou
  • Erector Spinae Group
  • Rhomboids
  • Gluteals
  • Lower portion of the Infraspinatus
  • Lower Portions of the Latissimus Dorsi
  • Middle and Lower Fibers of Triceps

Eccentric Contractions (Lengthening):

  • Abdominals
  • Pec Major and Minor
  • Iliopsoas (posoas major and iliacus)
  • Upper portions of the Infraspinatus
  • Teres Minor and Majror
  • Upper Portins of the Latissimus Dorsi
  • Subscapularis
  • Upper Portions of the Long head of the Triceps

(anatomy pics coming soon!)

Benefits:

  • Stimulates the pituitary, pineal and thyroid glands.
  • Challenges the heart and thereby encourages healthy blood circulation throughout the body.

Spot:

  • Place your hands on the top of your teachers feet. The teacher will assist the push up into full wheel as she directs your elbows drawing in toward each other yet parallel, as she assists the chest opening.

Alignment Cues:

The tendency in this pose is to allow your elbows to open broad and keep the elbows bent. In order to get a a full stretch on the upper portion soy the long head of the triceps and take the work out of the biceps, you have to get your elbows straight. The straightening of the elbows will also assist the shoulder and chest stretch. Lots of push (eccentric lengthening) and pull (concentric shortening) in the should girdle here. Pretty much all of the shoulder muscles are getting an eccentric lengthening stretch/workout near the shoulder. As they move away from the shoulder, they transition into more of a concentric shortening dynamic.

References:

Self Practice

Visible Body: Muscle Premium 

Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health; B.K.S. Iyenagr

Daily Asana (Yoga Pose): Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

Camel _ Ustrasana

Concentric Contractions:

  • Hamstrings
  • Gastrocnemeius
  • Triceps
  • Erector Spinae Group
  • Rhomboids
  • Infraspinatus

Eccentric Contractions (Lengthening):

  • Abdominals
  • Quadriceps
  • Hips Flexors (iliopsoas –posoas major and iliacus– and rectus femoris –one middle superior quadricep)
  • Erector Spina Group
  • Posterior Neck Muscles
  • Leg Adductors
  • Pec major and minor

(anatomy pics coming soon!)

Benefits:

  • Stretches the lunges and help increase lung capacity.
  • Helps regulate menstrual flow and relieve menstrual cramping.
  • Alleviates low back pain and pain sensations associated with arthritis.
  • Helps prevent varicose veins.

Modifications:

  • Place blocks on the outsides of your feet. Reach down for the blocks instead of the floor if your backside is weak and/or your front side is tights.
  • Place a chair that is lower that hip-height behind you. Place two bolster parallel to each other but perpendicular to your on top of the chair. Place a blanket on top of the rear bolster. Lower yourself onto your props for support.

(pics of modifications coming soon!)

Variations:

  • Curl your toes under to raise your heels up. This will make the pose not only more accessible and you will feel more in control of the posture.

(pics of variations coming soon!)

Alignment Cues:

The tendency in this pose is to collapse and compress the posterior cervical vertebra. Make sure to extend and lengthen the back of your neck, by slightly tucking in your chin and reaching the crown of your head away from you. Also remember to reach your shoulders back, drawing your shoulder blades toward each other. This will open your chest and stretch your pec major and minor.

References:

Self Practice

Visible Body: Muscle Premium 

Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health; B.K.S. Iyenagr

Yoga + Bodywork 10: Paschimottanasana as a Back Stretch to Prepare for Bridge or Urdhva Dhanurasana

Paschimottanasana or seated forward fold/bend is a deep posterior body stretch, stretching the entire back body from the base of your skull to the soles of your feet, including all the muscles (including the erector spinae group, hamstrings and calves) and fascia (especially the thoracolumbar fascia) along the way. Lengthening the back muscles is an excellent and effective way of preparing them for contraction. That’s right!! Lots of concentric contraction of the back muscles in bridge pose/Urdhva Dhanurasana, especially of the erector spinae group.