Posts tagged football
Interview with Yoga Sports Expert Hayley Winter
Hhayleyayley Winter, New York based founder of Yoga Sports Science, and a member of the Camyoga Teacher Training faculty, took some time out of her busy schedule this week to answer a few quick questions about the benefits of yoga for sports people.
I believe that sport-specific yoga is the new marginal gain and will be at the heart of future training for any sports person wanting to go further, faster, stronger and for longer.
How long have you been practising yoga and how did you discover it was an incredibly effective tool for sports people?
I have been practicing yoga for 30 years and teaching for 20. My first experience of introducing yoga into sport was through a colleague who worked for the English Institute of Sport. He wanted me to introduce a few mobility techniques to a track and field athlete. It was during that session that I began to question why yoga wasn't being used by every athlete as part of their strength and conditioning training.
In a nutshell, could you tell us a little bit about the benefits of a yoga practice for sports people?

Most people in sport recognise that yoga can help improve flexibility, but there are many other benefits. Some of the benefits of sports-specific yoga are:

  •  Prevention of Injury  Introducing yoga as part of an active recovery session, or as a cool down, can help the athlete to reduce the build up of lactic acid and reduce muscle soreness, which means they feel more energised and refreshed for the next day's training or event.
  • Improved Breathing Specific breathing techniques can be given to the athlete to either increase respiratory strength, or to introduce a breathing strategy which is particularly useful for long distance events. Breathing can also help athletes with their concentration, focus and with performance nerves.
  • Improved Movement Efficiency Specific yoga techniques which consider the movement patterns and demands of the sport, can enable an athlete to expend less energy and become more economical in how they perform.
  • Improving Awareness By helping an athlete develop an awareness of self can help them develop an awareness of others. This is particularly essential in team sports where the need for proprioceptive awareness is key. Initially for the athlete the development of self awareness begins with a sense of awareness of joint position and motion in space, through sensory feedback from the body. What occurs overtime is that the athlete starts to deepen their awareness of self and begin to explore aspects of their own nature. This opens up a whole new area of discovery for the individual, offering opportunities to integrate this level of awareness, not just into their performance, but also into their life.
Is yoga a useful tool for those practising any sport? Who might benefit from this the most?

Yoga can be a valuable addition to any athlete, in any sport and at any age. You are never too late to start and can begin to feel immediate benefits within both your sport and life.  Communicating and delivering the benefits of yoga is both an art and a science, and the challenge in the world today is that because yoga is now widely accepted in the mainstream, yoga teachers are under more pressure to understand how and why yoga works.

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We've heard that even the German football team are using yoga now! Is yoga for sports becoming more widespread?

Over 12 years ago when I first introduced yoga to footballers, it was mainly the older players who were trying it as a last resort to achieving longevity in their careers. But what started to happen was the older players were getting less injured and with the wisdom of their experience, matched with a renewed fitness meant that they were enjoying opportunites to demonstrate their talents. In all of the clubs I worked in, yoga was integrated into both academy and first team squads to great effect.

A number of years ago I was invited to meet Sir Dave Brailsford who was the Performance Director for British Olympic Cycling. He talked about how the training methods of the future would be looking to help athletes achieve the performance advantage by increasing the marginal gain. I believe that sport-specific yoga is the new marginal gain and will be at the heart of future training for any sports person wanting to go further, faster, stronger and for longer.
How has your personal yoga practice helped you in your life?
Yoga has been one of the most rewarding and essential tools in my own life. When life has thrown me a curve ball and presented situations that I thought I would never be strong enough to handle, I was able to access the resources within me. Each time I have been faced with something new, I have been able to find an internal way to navigate life's external challenges.
I am often asked how many times a week I practice, the truth is I practice all the time, but it is not necessarily the physical asana practice, but the practice of the other many wonderful aspects that yoga has given me to help me enhance my own performance.
Interested in Yoga for Sports People? Click here to find out more about Hayley Winter's forthcoming 2 day Introduction to Yoga for Sports People course at Camyoga, open to all. If you're already a yoga teacher or fitness professional, and would like to undertake the Hayley Winter Sports Foundation course at Camyoga this August, you can find out more here.