Yoga for Volleyball Players
In this Teesha Talk Tuesday, we will discuss yoga for volleyball players, the best exercises/poses to practice, and the added benefits of it.
What is it? Yoga for volleyball players is exactly what it sounds like - yoga poses that are targeted to those who play volleyball and are looking to improve their form, and therefore, improve their performance. Yoga assists volleyball players in increasing flexibility and strength, improving balance, preventing injury, and complements mental training. As you know, a large majority of yoga emphasizes the stretching of ligaments and joints and these stretches go hand-in-hand with the needed stretches that volleyball players need to train prior to a match. Yoga poses build strength and increase endurance over time, which is very helpful in a sport like volleyball where a player's calves and ankles are at high risk for being injured. Restorative yoga is great for volleyball athletes who are in the off-season and needing to recover as it includes yoga props such as a yoga block or bolster to aid in the poses. Outside of the physical improvements of yoga, it also pushes players to remain focused and calm as they are instructed to stay present and train their minds to pay attention to what's in front of them, just as they would at a match.
What are the best poses for it? The top five yoga poses/exercises for volleyball players are the dancer pose, the wide-legged squatter, the reverse plank, the threading-the-needle twist, and the pigeon forward fold.
The dancer pose is when you start in a standing position with your feet together, drawing one leg in toward your chest (and root down through your standing leg’s foot). Lift your kneecap and firm your glute in toward your midline. Bring your bent knee down in line with your standing leg. Begin to tip forward and reach your lifted foot up behind you. Bring your free arm across your body to hold on to your lifted foot. For the flip grip, bring your same-side elbow to the outside of the leg and turn your palm up as you grab hold of the pinky-toe edge of your foot. Let go with your free arm and turn your chest toward the front of your mat, lifting your elbow up toward the sky. Reach your free arm up and back behind you and grab hold of your lifted foot. Kick your foot up as you press your chest forward and straighten your standing leg.
The wide-legged pose is when you begin standing in the Mountain Pose at the top of your mat with your arms at your sides. Bring your hands to rest comfortably on your hips. Turn to the right and step your feet wide apart, about four feet. Turn your toes out slightly, so they point to the corners of your mat. On an exhalation, bend your knees directly over your toes and lower your hips into a squat. Work toward bringing your thighs parallel to the floor, but do not force yourself into the squat. Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder-height with your palms facing down. Then, spiral your thumbs up toward the ceiling, so your palms face forward. Bend your elbows and point your fingertips toward the ceiling; your upper arms and forearms should be at a 90-degree angle. Tuck your tailbone in slightly and press your hips forward as you draw your thighs back. Keep your knees in line with your toes. Soften your shoulders. Gaze softly at the horizon. Hold for up to 10 breaths. To release, slowly return your hands to your hips. Keeping your spine upright, inhale as you press firmly into your feet and straighten your legs. Step your feet together and come back to the top of your mat in Mountain Pose.
The reverse plank is when begin by sitting on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Then, place your palms, with fingers spread wide, on the floor slightly behind and outside your hips. Press into your palms and lift your hips and torso toward the ceiling. Look up to the ceiling, point your toes, and keep your arms and legs straight. Keep your entire body strong and form a straight line from your head to your heels. Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine. Hold the position for up to 30 seconds. If your hips begin to sag or drop, lower yourself back to the floor. Perform up to three sets of 30-second holds.
The thread-the-needle twist pose is when start in a neutral position on all fours, keeping your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Tuck your toes under. Open up your chest to the right as you extend your right arm toward the ceiling. Direct your gaze toward your raised hand. Begin to move your right arm under your chest toward the mat. Your torso should naturally shift to face downward. Keep both knees and your left arm grounded for support. Continue to slide your right arm onto the mat, allowing your right shoulder to rest on the mat. Extend your left arm overhead so your fingertips touch the mat, and rest the right side of your head on the mat. Continue shifting your right fingertips to the left until you feel a stretch. Hold the pose, focus on your breathing and repeat on the other side.
The pigeon forward fold is when from Downward Facing Dog, bring the right leg up into a down dog split Bend your right knee and bring that leg forward as if you were going to step into a lunge. Instead of placing your foot down as you would for a lunge, bring your right knee to the floor on the outside of your right hand. The right shin may angle back towards the left hip or be more parallel to the front of your mat, depending on your range of motion. Release your left knee to your mat. Your left leg should be flat on the floor. Take a look backward and make sure that your left foot is pointing straight back. Square your hips towards the front of your mat. Take padding (a folded blanket works well) under the right side of your hip as necessary to make the pose more comfortable. If you feel stable, bring your torso down into a forward bend over your right leg. Keep hips square and weight balanced equally on both sides as best you can. If this feels too intense, place a blanket or block or under the hip or back knee. Reach your forehead toward the floor. Continue squaring your hips and breathing into any tightness. Come back up, bringing your hands in line with your hips. To release, curl your left toes under and step back into a Downward Facing Dog. Repeat the pose on the other side.
What are the benefits of yoga for volleyball players?
1. Yoga lowers stress and anxiety.
2. Yoga has a positive impact on volleyball player’s concentration.
3. Yoga strengthens muscles and prevents injuries.
4. Yoga increases body flexibility.
5. Yoga helps volleyball players stay balanced on the court.
Are you or someone you know an active volleyball player? Inquire about having a session with us to improve your volleyball performance and to go into your 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!