1) Yoga enhances recovery - most vigorous sport activities generate lactic acid in muscle tissue. If lactic acid is not removed properly, it can adversely affect performance in future training sessions or events. Yoga exercises can help in the removal of lactic acid by gently circulating lactic acid out of muscle tissue and into the blood stream where it will make its' way to the liver for processing. Yoga also has shown to improve sleep patterns. Proper rest and ample sleep are critical periods for an athlete's recovery process.
2) Yoga restores balance and can help reduce injury. Many sport activities are dominant on one side of the body due to specific movements and joint loading. This mechanical dominance can create musculoskeletal imbalances that can generate chronic injuries. Yoga can be beneficial in reducing these tissue and joint imbalances.
3) Yoga improves biomechanics and energy conservation. Moving a joint requires energy. The more tension one has around that joint, the more energy is required to facilitate that movement. The goal of athletes is to have maximum performance with the most energy conservation. Yoga exercises that improve flexibility and joint range of motion reduce muscle tension and enhance sport biomechanics. This enhancement reduces the amount of energy needed for those movements, thus allowing an athlete to perform at higher levels and/or longer intervals.
4) Yoga improves body awareness and focus. Yoga employs physical and mental exercises that deepen one's sense of body positioning and movement (proprioception). Enhanced proprioceptive skills are crucial in the development and progression of athletic training. Yoga's use of breathing and centering techniques can be valuable tools for event preparation, routine and skill visualization, as well as stress/anxiety reduction.
5) Yoga improves breathing function. Yoga exercises, particularly pranayam exercises, have been shown to improve breathing mechanics and lung capacity. Focused breathing exercises develop one's ability to maximize function of all breathing mechanisms (diaphragm and intercostal breathing). Maximal lung health is vital for athlete's, especially for those who partake in aerobic-based sports and require efficient lungs to deliver sufficient oxygen uptake.
By Kreg Weiss