What Is Yoga?

Yoga is not a religion or a cult. It is a 5,000 year old exercise system used by people to achieve higher of levels of health and fitness, both physical and mental.

Yoga trains the body, mind & spirit to become strong and flexible, release stress and create inner peace, while developing a deep connection with ones spirit, intuition and personal power. All of these are essential for living a healthy balanced life and for the athlete to play a healthy balanced strong game.

A regular yoga practice lasts from 30 min. to 1 1/2 hours long. Many poses are held from 1 to 5 minutes so that muscles and deep connective tissue are simultaneously stretched and strengthened giving them a rubber band memory not achieved in traditional exercise. This is of extreme importance to the athlete as the connective tissue attaches muscle to bone and stabilizes all of the joints thus, preventing or minimizing injury when the athlete is spontaneous in action, opposed to having controlled safe form in a gym workout.

Yoga is not an aerobic exercise, but it does burn calories. The intimidating pretzel poses, often associated with yoga are not essential to achieve maximum benefits.

 

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                                             Janise teaching a yoga therapy workshop for athletic injuries. 

          

Benefits of Yoga for the Competitive :

The benefits of yoga are unlimited. The obvious is the increased flexibility throughout the muscular system, but there is so much more.

The athlete can benefit by increasing mobility in the joints, thus increasing range of motion for overall enhanced performance. The athlete will be able to reach farther, fall harder while preventing and minimizing injuries because their muscles have a memory (like a rubber band) from the deep stretching obtained in practicing yoga on a regular basis.

Many athletes are having more injuries that require surgery because of the increased focus on strength training with weight resistance.  This method for increasing strength and muscle mass is highly effective and efficient , yet it dramatically decreases flexibility. However, if yoga or other types of prolonged stretching are practiced in combination with strength training and practical application exercises (using the body in a way that mimics the movements of their particular sport, while performing a balancing or core movement), injury can be minimized during engagement in other competitive sports that call for the athlete to be more spontaneous with their bodies, calling for overextended reaches, lunges, falls, etc., all of which increase the odds of injury, opposed to the safety of controlled mechanical motion used in weight room workouts.

With yoga, the athlete will not only increase flexibility but also increase poise and balance from the practice of the yoga holding/balancing poses.  This type of balancing will enhance athletic performance by enabling the athlete to prevent falls because of his heightened awareness of his bodies center place. When balancing poses are mastered the athlete is then conditioned to unconsciously recover from any imbalances their body may experience, staying centered in action, moment by moment during play. This is when the athlete begins to perform miraculous stunts. He is able to use his body in ways he never thought possible while remaining centered and injury free.

Yoga also helps strengthen connective tissue, break down adhesions (tiny scar tissue) from old injuries and over-training, that have tightened as we age thus helping create mobility of the joints and an anti-aging posture.

As the practice of yoga focuses on deep breathing while stretching, this diaphragmic breath not only helps with sinking into a deeper stretch but also circulates the body's lymph fluid which increases the bodies capacity to cleanse and detoxify by 15% (see Lymphatic Massage). By cleansing the body on a regular basis with this kind of breathing along with a clean diet, the bodies immune system is boosted, the blood is purified, and this results in increased health and vitality.

The deep rhythmic breathing performed in yoga also creates and builds up one's life force energies or Prana, also called Qi or Chi in Chinese healing and martial arts.  So, one actually creates mores energy than is expended during a yoga session. The type of energy that is not from the caloric intake of our diet, but a cosmic energy.

Other Benefits:

  Strengthens deep connective tissue preventing or minimizing injury.

  Creates overall body flexibility. Increases range of motion and mobility.

  Dramatically enhances physical balance by developing the athletes awareness of his body's center
      place, thus keeping their body balanced in action, moment by moment, giving the ability to recover
      from or prevent falls, while enhancing agility and maneuverability.

  Improves circulation, massages internal organs and glands for optimum health.

 The yoga breath circulates and detoxifies the lymph fluid to speed up recovery time from training 15%
      faster, eliminating fatigue.

The yoga breath builds up increases one's life force energy.

  Enhances sensory acuity, mental focus, concentration, mental clarity, will power, and determination.

Dissolves pre competition anxiety and stress. Helps to balance & manage emotions that could cloud
      focus, concentration & judgment.

  Trains the athlete get and stay in the mental zone.

  Quickens mental response time for more effective game play and strategy.

  When doing yoga as a team it enhances team synergy and team chemistry & telepathy on the playing
      field.
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Janise and her student Ime Oduok, a professional Basketball Player,
practice a balance pose for ankle, knee and hip stability.

 


Why Yoga For Sports?     

Actually it is the Spirit, the Mind and then the Body. The athlete needs all three integrated to have peak performance.

1) SPIRIT * Inspiration * Motivation

Everything starts from the Spirit. The athlete must first be inspired, meaning " in spirit ", having a desire to compete, play, or win. To have team spirit. If the athlete lacks spirit he won't play his best.

Yoga connects the athlete deeper with his Spirit through the meditative poses thus allowing him/her to tap into their pure potentiality, unlimited.  This occurs when the athlete practices yoga as a meditation, so that union with the  infinite spirit that is also the infinite potentiality is achieved. 
(see
link for more on Spirit.)

2) MIND * Preparation * Education

Inspiration is not enough. Once inspired the athlete must prepare with his Mind. He must have a game plan, a strategy, and education of his game and opponents to fulfill his inspiration or desire to play and win. To follow through with a strategy, yoga trains the athlete to focus, balance emotions, concentrate, & get in the zone.

When enduring the uncomfortable sensations the body feels while holding long and still in poses such as the "warrior" or " hero", will power, discipline and determination are developed in the mind, and then infused with inspiration..

3) BODY * Perspiration * Implementation

Inspiration and preparation are still not enough. Perspiration is what makes it all happen. In order to ultimately fulfill the desire of the Spiritual body and execute the strength and game plan of the Mental body, the athlete must have a finely tuned, flexible and strong Physical body.

This is where the athlete's game is fully benefited by the physical aspect of practicing yoga asanas. The body is available to move beyond old limitations to peak performance.

(See physical benefits above.)

 

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Janise Anthony

 

     
   
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