How Yoga Benefits High-Endurance Athletes

Even if you’re into high-endurance sports such as basketball, cycling or running, you can still benefit from the meditative and holistic properties of yoga. This centuries-old discipline focuses on a connection between the mind and body to help strengthen both.

Originating in India, yoga has roots that can be traced to the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, but only became popular in the Western world in the 1980s. Although there are numerous forms of yoga, all combine deep breathing and meditation, while burning calories and toning muscles.

More than 100 forms of yoga exist, in fact. Some—like hatha, which has a series of basic movements combined with  breathing—are more slow and relaxed. Vinyasa, too, with its series of poses that flow smoothly from one to the next, is very calming. Power yoga, as its name suggests, is a faster and more challenging form of yoga. Bikram, or hot yoga, features 26 challenging poses done in a highly heated room.

What does all this have to do with basketball, cycling or running and other high-endurance sports? Lots, actually. First, the breathing exercises that accompany yoga poses will allow you to better keep your stamina when taking part in a high-energy sport. In addition, yoga targets your core muscles, allowing you to tone, tighten and strengthen. Your arms, legs, glutes and back will all benefit from yoga moves, whether you choose a relaxed or fast-pace form. You also should see increased flexibility due to the muscle-stretching poses. And although it’s a full-body workout, it’s low-impact, so it won’t put any pressure on your joints.

Even if you’re highly competitive, you may find the calming properties of yoga beneficial, particularly after back-and-forth games like basketball, football or baseball. Consider yoga to help you begin a journey toward mind-body wellness—and know that your performance in other sports will benefit in the process.