Yoga for Soccer Players
In this Teesha Talk Tuesday, we will discuss yoga for soccer players, the best exercises/poses to practice, and the added benefits of it.
What is it? Yoga for soccer players is exactly what it sounds like- yoga poses that are targeted to those who are active soccer players! Soccer players often have to practice an extensive 3-5 hours on a daily basis to build (and maintain) their positioning and spatial awareness, ball control, stamina, speed, and agility. So, as you can assume, their bodies are often left sore and overworked with a mind that is often overwhelmed (on and off the field) . Another skill that the average soccer player must have is to maintain great focus and a positive, "go-getter" attitude and that all starts with self-care and a solid system of balance between everyday tasks and sports. Yoga for soccer players improves their agility, concentration, and endurance. It loosens their limbs and prepares their muscles for strenuous exercise during the typical soccer game; this preparation can prevent joint stress and muscle strains. Soccer players who practice yoga outside of soccer practice are more likely to be well-prepared for the game, more focused and concentrated on their respective roles, and less likely to be injured as they've properly prepared their bodies for the movements necessary to be a successful player.
What are the best poses for it? The top five yoga poses/exercises for soccer players are the Downward Facing Dog, the Warrior I pose, the Half Front Splits pose, the Pigeon pose, and the Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend pose.
The Downward Facing Dog stretches the hamstrings and calves, as well as the shoulders. It also calms the nervous system. To start, come to your hands and knees. Place your hands firmly to the ground, tuck your toes under and rise to Downward Facing Dog. Start with your knees bent, back straight and long, tailbone towards the ceiling. Slowly straighten and stretch one leg at a time back bringing the heel closer towards the ground.
Draw the shoulder blades towards the spine and actively try to lower them, rotating your upper arms outwards. Stay for 5 breaths.
The Warrior I pose opens and stretches the groin and stomach while strengthening the legs. To do this, start from the Mountain Pose and step your left foot back and turn it slightly outward. Bring your arms up with an inhale, and with the exhale, bend the right foot, making sure the knee stays above your right ankle. Keep your palms together if this is comfortable for your shoulders, otherwise keep arms shoulder distance apart, palms facing each other. Hold for 5 breaths.
The Half Front Splits pose is great for opening the hamstrings and easing the tightness that running on a soccer field can cause. To do this, start by coming to your hands and knees, and step one leg between your hands to come into a low lunge. Raise your back hip above the knee while straightening the front leg, bringing the heel to touch the ground, toes pointing up. Place a pillow under your back knee if you need a more softer surface. Try to keep length in your spine, and reach your chest forward towards the front leg. You can have your hands on the ground, or on blocks to give you more space. Stay for 5-10 long, steady breaths.
The Pigeon pose is a deep hip opening pose, stretching the hip rotators as well as the quadriceps and hip flexors. As a bonus, it also relieves tension and stress. Start coming to your hands and knees, and slide your right knee between your hands. If the knee feels stressed, bring the right ankle closer to the hip. Centre yourself so that your weight is even. You can stay upright, placing your fingertips on the ground and lengthening your torso. Or move down towards a sleeping Pigeon pose by either supporting the upper body with your elbows, or lowering yourself completely to the floor. Place a blanket or a block under your right hip if you need support to keep the hips even. Stay for 6-8 long, steady breaths.
The Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend pose is a great pose for creating space in the groin and inside the legs while strengthening your spine. To do this, start by sitting in an upright position (the staff pose) and taking your legs out wide. If you find that your lower back is curving, place a block under your hips. You'll want to create space and length between the pubic bone and your navel. Take your hands behind your back, your fingers facing forward, and lift the sternum. Sitting up straight might already give you a good stretch in the groin, so you can stay upright. If not, hinge from the hips and slowly walk your hands forward. As soon as you find yourself bending from the waist, stop going further and keep your spine straight. Stay in this pose anywhere between 1-3 minutes.
What are the benefits of yoga for soccer players?
1. Yoga helps in building endurance, strength, and agility.
2. Yoga improves balance and controlled breathing as well as creating a healthier state of mind which aids concentration.
3. Yoga stabilizes joints and loosens tight muscles which helps protect the body from potential injuries and better preparation for a soccer match.
Are you or someone you know an active soccer player? Inquire about having a session with us to improve your soccer performance and to go into the game more relaxed and focused than ever. Here at Teesha Yoga, we have a lot of our athletic clients sign up for Athletic Yoga where we design the class to conform to their needs based on which sports they specialize in. Join us so we can inspire your yoga fitness journey and better your relationship with sports! Until next time, stay safe!