Yoga and youth sports is not a connection that youth sports parents and coaches always make. While yoga has become increasingly popular, not as many coaches have instilled yoga practices into their sports’ practices. As of 2015, about 10% of adults participated in yoga, but only about 3% of kids.
Real Men Do Yoga
Real men do yoga. Just ask the Seattle Seahawks. Yoga has been an integral part of their training routine for years. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar used to be teased about his enthusiasm for yoga until he began putting up outstanding numbers on the scoreboard, and others discovered the benefits of his approach. The guys quickly came around. Tennis greats John McEnroe and Andy Murray (recent Olympic gold medal winner) practice yoga as part of their regular workout routine.
Until fairly recently yoga was thought to be mostly a woman’s pursuit. That has changed over the past few years. In any large yoga class it is common for almost half of the students to be men.
Yoga and Youth Sports: A Winning Combination
Both professional and college teams are turning to yoga to enhance the endurance, balance, strength and mental focus of their athletes. When practiced individually yoga
brings focus and confidence. When practiced as a team, it enhances the common bond and allows the team to focus on common goals.
Yoga is physical and mental in equal proportions. It teaches the student that the body can do much more that the mind often thinks it can. Yoga removes barriers and offers new challenges. The most advanced yogi alive will tell you that the real beauty of yoga is that there is always something to learn; new challenges to face.
The professional athlete may practice yoga because they are looking for a competitive edge. Regular people practice yoga because it centers their mind, strengthens their body and soothes their spirit.
Yoga is always a challenge. No two practices are the same. Yoga is an adventure, beginning with the breath and extending to the soul.
The Benefits of Yoga for the Young Athlete
For pre and teen athletes body awareness is key. The young athlete who practices yoga is way ahead of his fellows when it comes to being mentally connected to the physical body. Yoga is the study of the discipline of movement and the zen of stillness.
Concentration on the smallest of muscles to achieve a proper pose is required. The young yogi makes the metal and physical connection and practice will bring them to the point where the mental and physical become part of the same thing.
The word “gangly” is often used to describe the young person. “Awkward” is another term that often comes to mind.
These terms arise from the young person’s lack of body awareness. This is a perfectly natural state. Everyone goes through it. The practice of yoga will allow the young athlete to go through the awkward stage much faster. Through yoga, a thirteen-year-old athlete can develop the body awareness of a twenty-year-old. The advantages to this are obvious.
Why a Yoga eBook with Videos?
My adult students often bring in their young offspring to my yoga classes. These young people are always nervous and typically awkward. Because the practice is formatted as a flow class I do not have enough time to help the young people as much as I’d like to.
It occurred to be that if the young person had been introduced to the basics of yoga before they tackled a full class they might be more comfortable and they would actually enjoy rather that endure the class.
Young teens are notoriously self-conscious. If they could attend their first yoga class with a degree of confidence they would be more likely to enjoy the real benefits of the yoga practice.
By including six videos with the ebook, students can see exactly how the flows work and fine tune their own transitions from one pose to the next. The videos provide a model for how to perform the flows. To find out more about Yoga and the Young Athlete, visit the Sports Feel Good Stories Store.
Sample Video from Kathy Barnes’ “Yoga and the Young Athlete”
Young athletes and other family members will enjoy the opportunity to get in a yoga session from the comforts of their own homes. You don’t need a lot of space and a quality session can be completed in 30 minutes.
Instilling Good Yoga Practice Habits
By following the six routines outlined in this ebook the young teen will be able to attend any yoga class and feel like they belong. These routines will allow the young athlete to overcome the awkward stage in the comfort and privacy of their own home.
I’ve often watched young teens leave my class frustrated and resentful. Frustrated at their obvious inability and resentful for being dragged into the class. The object of this project is to eliminate that frustration.
Body awareness is something we all gain over time. The practice of yoga will dramatically shorten that time for the young athlete. All the other benefits of yoga (strength, balance, concentration, controlled breathing) will come with the practice of yoga. This makes yoga a great fit for virtually any sport, but notably football, basketball, soccer, volleyball and lacrosse. The biggest benefit of yoga for the young athlete is that yoga can be the beginning of a life long, beneficial practice.