Five Yoga Exercises to make you a better Footballer
Yoga has the power to bring relief from countless ailments at the physical level. The practice of the postures (asans) strengthens the body and creates a feeling of being fit. From the psychological view point, yoga sharpens the intellect and enhances the concentration levels!
So how does Yoga help improve performances? To quantify it in three simple words, the practice helps players improve ‘Flexibility, Strength, and Endurance.’ It’s also credited with Increasing mental concentration and balance which in turn helps vastly in preventing common injuries and honing skills.
1) Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog
The Downward Facing Dog pose has many benefits. It activates and stretches the hamstrings, calves and shoulders, and also helps calm the nervous system.
How to do it: Get onto the floor on your hands and knees, with your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips.
Begin by keeping your knees bent, back straight and long, tailbone towards the ceiling. Slowly straighten, stretch and bring one of your heels closer to your hands, creating a V pose. Pull the shoulder blades towards the spine and actively try to lower them, rotating your upper arms outwards. Maintain the pose for 5 breaths.
2) Virabhadrasana I or Warrior I
This pose strengthens the legs and upper arms, improves balance and core strength, and stretches the muscles around the hips. To do this, start from Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and step your left foot back and turn it slightly outward.
How to do it: Whilst inhaling, raise your arms up and proceed to exhale while bending the right foot. Keep in mind to keep your knee above your right ankle. If you feel discomfort on your shoulders, keep your palms together. Once you get comfortable through regular practice, keep your arms shoulder distance apart, palms facing each other. Maintain the pose for 5 breaths.
3) Ardha Hanumanasana or Half Front Splits pose
This pose is useful for opening the hamstrings and easing the tightness that constant running on a football field can cause.
How to do it: Begin by getting onto your hands and knees, and put one leg between your hands to come into a low lunge.
Straighten the front leg while keeping your hip above the knee, and bring the heel to touch the ground, toes pointing up. Use a pillow if you need a softer surface for the back of your knee. Extend your chest forward towards the front leg. You can keep your hands on the ground or on blocks. Stay for 5-10 long, steady breaths.
4) Pigeon pose
Known to relieve tension and stress, this is a deep hip opening pose that stretches the hip rotators, the quadriceps, and hip flexors..
How to do it: Get onto your hands and knees, and slide your right knee between your hands. In case of overt stress on your knees, bring the right ankle closer to the hip. Centre yourself to distribute your weight evenly.
Stay upright, placing your fingertips on the ground and elongate your torso. To help keep the hips even, place a blanket or a block under your right hip. Stay for 6-8 long, steady breaths.
5) Upavistha Konasana or Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend
To open up the hip area and hamstrings use this pose as it increases blood circulation to the pelvis, abdominal area and the lower back.
How to do it: Sit in a cross legged position, keep moving your legs wide apart while keeping your back straight.
Stretch your palms in front of you, bending from the hip and tilting your pelvis. Slowly try to bring your palms down and bend elbows down to bring your chest forward towards the floor. If you feel comfortable, slowly stretch and maintain this pose for 1-3 minutes.
Multiple studies have confirmed the many mental and physical benefits of yoga.
Incorporating it into your routine can help enhance your health, increase strength and flexibility and reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety.
Finding the time to practice yoga just a few times per week may be enough to make a noticeable difference when it comes to your health.
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