In order to avoid sports-related injuries, keeping your body strong and flexible is important. Cross training between seasonal sporting activities and Yoga will help you to receive the benefits of a well-rounded exercise program, while simultaneously preventing injuries due to the repetitive nature of many sports. A regular practice of Yoga will keep your muscles and ligament strong and flexible. However, do keep in mind that Yoga may not provide enough cardiovascular conditioning for you. Unless you are an intermediate or advanced Yoga practitioner, you may find it difficult to keep your heart rate consistently elevated to an aerobic level during your Yoga practice.
If you are not able to practice Yoga in such a way that your heart rate remains consistently elevated for at least twenty minutes at a time, cross-training in other sports will help you to round out your fitness regime. Cross training between Yoga and an activity that raises your heart rate to an aerobic level will keep your heart healthy and your entire cardiovascular system strong. If running is your sport of choice, incorporating specific asanas into your Yoga practice which elongate the muscles and ligaments that become shortened while jogging or running, will help to prevent typical running-related injuries.
* Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog is one of the core postures of any Yoga practice. It offers a myriad of benefits. Downward Facing Dog increases the circulation of prana throughout your entire body, releases tension in the shoulders, elongates the neck muscles, and releases tension in the lower back. A few of the most important benefits of Downward Facing Dog for runners are the release of muscular tension in the hamstrings, Achilles’ tendons and calf muscles. These are areas that often become strained while running or jogging, particularly on pavement or other hard surfaces. Practicing Downward Facing Dog on a regular basis will also help to keep your spine in alignment and release tension in the Heart and Throat Chakra areas, which will increase your energy and overall sense of well-being.
To practice Adho Mukha Svanasana, come to Mountain Pose at the front of your Yoga mat. With an inhale, raise your arms overhead. With your next exhale, bring your hands down the front of your body in Prayer Position all the way to your Yoga mat. Place your hands next to your feet and with your next inhale look slightly up, and then with an exhale, jump or walk your feet behind you so that your body creates an inverted V. Keep your hands shoulder’ distance apart and flat on the mat with your fingers spread like a star. Keep your feet hips’ distance apart and slowly pedal your feet to gently stretch out any tight muscles in your calves or hamstrings.
When you are ready, place both feet flat on your mat, elongate the stretch in your upper torso by pressing against your hands and gaze at your belly button. Breathe deeply and fully for three to five breaths while holding Downward Facing Dog. To come out of the pose, with an inhale look forward and jump or walk your feet back to Standing Forward Fold. Hold Standing Forward Fold for a few breaths and with your next inhale, raise your arms back overhead, and then bring your hands to meet in Prayer Position at your Heart Chakra.
© Copyright 2013 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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