The benefits that can be obtained from yoga
are not limited to those who seek casual exercise. The sense of mental balance
combined with physical well-being lends itself perfectly to a bevy of sports.
In this yoga for sports series post, we'll examine how yoga for hockey
players can deliver results physically and mentally that will elevate your game by just adding a small yoga sequence to their workout routines.
According to yoga instructor Kelly the Washington Capitals, for athletes the biggest impacts that yoga makes is structural efficiency, stability, range of motion, as well as building physical and mental resilience.
start by looking at a few key areas that yoga can provide benefits to hockey
players of all skill levels.
Whether you're a high-speed forward or a
stonewall goaltender, you can absolutely experience benefits when utilizing
yoga for hockey players. Every single position on the ice requires exceptional
endurance, extreme flexibility, and powerful legs.
Although the poses and
postures of yoga don't have the macho look or feel of other workout routines
that incorporate large hunks of iron, yoga can improve all three of these key
areas. By choosing the proper sequence, you can focus on each of these
individual areas of interest to maximize your game and become the best hockey
player you can be.
Yoga Sequence for Hockey Players
Warrior Pose II (Virabhadrasana II)
A great place to start when building your yoga sequence tailored explicitly to hockey player's and other athletes needs, is the warrior pose II. Believed to increase stamina, this pose isreminiscent of a standard lunge and works to strengthen several key areas of the body.
Even for athletes it's important, if you are new to yoga, to take things slow, and this is a great beginner pose to get you going. This pose is done in a standing positing, and is a stretch, strength and balance type position.
Benefits of this powerful pose, focuses on your arms, back, hamstrings, chest, hips and quadriceps.
To get the full effect of this pose, and enhance both physical and mental aspects of your physiology, perform this posture while being very mindful of keeping a correct posture and purposeful breathing patterns.
1. It is cohesive to transition into this position after a pose like the mountain pose. Begin by spreading your feet farther then shoulder width apart (roughly 4 feet).
2. Both arms should be raised into the air, parallel to the floor. Your palms should be down, almost attempting to stretch the fingertips and reach as far as you can in each direction.
3. Your back foot should be positioned to where your toes are facing the right wall, and the center of this foot should be in line with the front (or left) knee cap. At this time, the front torso should be in the same direction as your back foot's toes.
4. Your front foot, toes specifically, will face the wall directly in front of you. Your quad or thigh should remain firm, and your left knee will be overtop your left ankle.
5. As you get into this position, attempt to press into the feet. Relax deeper into this stretch, lowering your hips further toward the floor, attempting to get your left thigh parallel to the floor if possible.
6. Throughout the pose focus on breathing, your back leg should also remain straightened, pressing firmly into your yoga mat.
7. Hold this pose for 30 sec. - 1 minute. Then repeat with opposing leg in front.
The chair pose is a great pose to enhance leg strength. Much like the squat, this position will work to use your natural body weight to enhance the strength and definition in your quadriceps.
In any hockey workout routine, legs are going to be a huge area of focus, and while yoga may not deliver the gains you're looking for, it can be beneficial certainly to help with overall strength, balance, and endurance!
The chair pose is a beginner friendly asana, done like the warrior pose in a standing position. Utkatasana is considered a forward-bend, stretch, strength and balance, type pose.
Utkatasana benefits the arms, hips, pelvis, quadriceps, and knees. This is another powerful position. Practicing this asana consistently will reap the best rewards.
1. Begin with your feet together (or slightly apart, less then shoulder width). Toes facing directly forward, well balanced on each leg.
2. Lift your arms about shoulder height. Reach your fingertips toward the sky, drawing your shoulder back at the same time.
3. Then exhale, start to lower the hips and taking them back as if doing a squat, or as if you were going to sit in a chair.
4. You should attempt to get your hips close to a 90 degree angle, never more. At this time, much of the weight will be on the back of your heels.
5. Hold this position for a 30-second count or more. This can be challenging, but can build great stamina and strength in your lower body if done on a consistent basis.
Check out this 28-Minute Advanced and Thorough Yoga for Hockey Players Routine, Below!
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
The warrior pose II is great for stretching out key areas of your body before your workout. Conversely, the chair pose works wonders to strengthen and enhance your quads. Following these two poses with the tree pose works on a less tangible attribute.
A great beginner pose, helping with stretch, strength and balance, as well as to feel centered and grounded. Vrksasana benefits your hamstrings, quadriceps, and hips.
In the list of characteristics found in any hockey player, balance is bound to be high on the list. In order to be light on your feet and change direction on the ice with an effortless wisp of intention, you'll need to enhance your balance. This is where the tree pose can play a pivotal role in yoga for hockey players.
1. Standing facing forward or from Tadasana, begin by bringing your right foot up to the left inner thigh. Attempt to keep the hips facing forward. The right knee will be facing the right wall.
2. Because the hips are to rotate very little to not at all, the right knee may swing slightly forward to compensate, depending on flexibility level(s).
3. Balance the hands on the hips. The key to this asana is balance, some may not be able to bring the right foot high up on the thigh, so attempt to bring as high as possible, but still remaining balanced.
4. The left thigh and right foot should be pressing into one-another.
5. The left leg should remain strong, chest forward. Begin to bring your palms together in front of your torso.
6. Inhale, keeping the hands together and moving them overhead toward the sky.
7. Hold for a few breaths. Repeat with the opposing legs.
Plank Pose (Phalakasana)
The last yoga posture for hockey players is the plank pose. This well-known yoga posture is one of the most effective at building endurance and power in the abdominal area. Your body's core isn’t named as such based solely on its location within the human anatomy.
It is, in general, the core focal point that generates all movement, stability, and power. Working to enhance your core strength is an excellent way to see substantial improvements in your hockey game.
This may be a beginner pose, but that doesn't mean the benefits can't be immense. This is a strength-type yoga pose, with benefits falling on the core, arms, and lower back.
1. Many begin this pose from the Downward Facing Dog or a pose like Standing Forward Fold. Ideally, with the plank pose, your hands will be underneath your shoulders, pushing your palms into the floor (or you can use your forearms to rest your body weight, pictured above).
2. Your torso, quads and feet should be in a straight line.
3. Keep your back straight, try not to arch your back.
4. Hold this pose for 2-4 slow breaths or 30-seconds intervals.
It's important that if you've never tried yoga before, to start slow. Like with anything else, even a highly trained athlete needs to be aware of the limitation of his/her body.
Hopefully this has been a helpful guide to yoga for hockey players. From here, you can add more advanced asanas to focus on individual needs.
Please share any success stories on our blog in the comments section.