Sports by definition is: “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Yoga is “a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation. (Dictionary, 2017)
First the backstory
Yoga is centuries old. According to Timothy Burgin executive director of YogaBasics.com it dates back over 5,000 years. The basics of yoga were created by a Northern Indian civilization. Burgin explains that later yoga was refined and developed by Brahmans and Rishis: mystic seers. They documented this yoga in Upanishads, a body of work that included over 200 scriptures This era of yoga is called “pre-classical yoga”. Burgins explains that “The Upanishads took the idea of ritual sacrifice from the Vedas and internalized it, teaching the sacrifice of the ego through self-knowledge, action (karma yoga) and wisdom (jnana yoga).” (Burgin, HISTORY OF YOGA, 2011)
The next era of yoga is called Classical Yoga. This was the era where yoga was organized into eight paths that gave directions and stages toward enlightenment. A man name Patanjali developed these paths Burgin explains that “Patanjali is often considered the father of yoga and his Yoga-Sûtras still strongly influence most styles of modern yoga.” (Burgin, HISTORY OF YOGA, 2011)
Ending this section with “Post-Classical Yoga”, Timothy quickly sums up this area as a time where the ancient teachings of Vedas were rejected. Instead, “the physical body was focused on, along with radical techniques to cleanse the body and mind to break the knots that bind us to our physical existence.”
On to the next century. The Modern period of yoga. This era yoga masters made their way across the ocean to the west and drew a lot of people in. The yoga masters opened ashrams and yoga centers around the world that show the universality of yoga with world religions.
Ask A Doctor
Just like with any lifestyle change and introduction into new physical activity notify a doctor is always a good idea. The staff at Mayo Clinic especially recommend this if:
“You have heart disease.
You have asthma or lung disease.
You have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
You have kidney disease.
You have arthritis.
You're being treated for cancer, or you have recently completed cancer treatment.
One should also check with a doctor if there have symptoms suggestive of heart, lung or other serious disease such as:
Pain or discomfort in your chest, neck, jaw or arms during physical activity
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting with exercise or exertion
Shortness of breath with mild exertion, at rest, or when lying down or going to bed
Ankle swelling, especially at night
A rapid or pronounced heartbeat
A heart murmur that your doctor has previously diagnosed
Lower leg pain when you walk, which goes away with rest” (Staff, 2016)
Recommendations that are a little less serious but just as important include:
“You're older than 35 years.
You have a family history of heart disease before age 60.
You smoke or you quit smoking in the past six months.
You don't normally exercise for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week.
You're significantly overweight.
You have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
You have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, or you have impaired glucose tolerance (also called prediabetes).”
Yoga for Athletes.
Yoga’s demographic has drastically changed from its origins centuries ago. You can now find yoga classes in local gyms and in most mainstream outlets. Yoga is now “a broad term covering the physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines that aim to transform the body and the mind.” (Yoga M. , 2014) Yoga has made its entrance into professional sports. Athletes of the two most popular, Football and Basketball have expressed yoga’s aide in preventing injuries and an increase in concentration and focus in the high stress situations the preform under. Joe Johnson explained how crucial yoga became in his workout routine; “It’s better than weight training or anything of that sort, it’s therapy for my muscles, and my muscles need that more than anything.” (Yoga M. , 2014) “Russell Okung, left tackle for the Seahawks, says, “Yoga and meditation are as important as lifting weights and being out here on the field for practice. It’s about quieting your mind and getting into certain states where everything outside of you doesn’t matter in that moment.” (Yoga M. , 2014) Yoga has the ability to build core strength, help with flexibility, mobility and muscle. Man Flow Yoga provides an extensive list of yoga’s other benefits for athletes. Highlights include; Increased power and body alignment, increased stamina, balance, awareness of body, and mental stamina. (Yoga M. F., 2017)
Yoga for injuries
There are three stages of an injury that yoga can help move through; the acute stage: during this stage it is important not to perform any movements that use strength or produce any extra pain. Yoga basics suggests using “ice and compression (wrapping with an ace bandage) on the injured area during the first 2-3 days after the injury is also recommended to help relieve inflammation and pain, and to expedite the recovery process.” Although the area may feel like it needs to be stretched it could further or reinjure affected area. In the first stage it is suggested that one uses slow and gentle movements. Next, the subacute stage: “The subacute stage of injury follows the acute stage and lasts between 1-3 weeks. During this time the injured tissue is very fragile and susceptible to re-injury. Very gentle stretching is the first step of rehabilitation.” Lastly, the chronic stage: “the chronic stage of injury follows the subacute stage and may take up to 12-18 months for complete healing to occur. During this time the injured site may feel healed, but it is still susceptible to a re-injury and/or chronic inflammation if excessive force is used on the area.” With the last two stages slow movement into poses is important. Any poses that increase pain should be avoided and if there is any pain, tingling or numbness occurs, the pose should be stopped immediately.
In conclusion, yoga is about self-understanding, centering and discipline. However, yoga is also very physical. One can expect a major shift in the bodies physical condition. Major changed in stamina, flexibility and concentration. Yoga is now used for injury prevention and recovery.
Burgin, T. (2011). HISTORY OF YOGA. Retrieved from Yoga Basics: http://www.yogabasics.com/learn/history-of-yoga/
Burgin, T. (2018, January). PRACTICING YOGA WITH COMMON INJURIES. Retrieved from Yoga Basics: http://www.yogabasics.com/practice/yoga-for-beginners/yoga-with-common-injuries/
Dictionary. (2017). Retrieved from Google: https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS733US733&q=Dictionary
Staff, M. C. (2016, February 11). Exercise: When to check with your doctor first. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic : http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20047414
Yoga, M. (2014, October 30). Is Yoga a Sport? Retrieved from The Good Men Project: https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/yoga-sport-kcon/
Yoga, M. F. (2017). Yoga Conditioning For Athletes. Retrieved from Man Flow Yoga: http://manflowyoga.com/yoga-conditioning-for-athletes-230285/