Most college athletes have a lot going on in their lives, to say the least. Between balancing good grades, a demanding sports schedule, and adjusting to a life sometimes far away from home, the life of a college athlete is far from simple and peaceful. I remember not too long ago being completely overwhelmed by two-a-day practices, challenging school classes, and an abundance of social obligations that made trying to focus nearly impossible. I think most people would agree with me when I say that while college is absolutely fun, it is also really stressful and anxiety ridden. There is a ton of pressure put on today’s students to exceed beyond all prior expectations, and then imagine adding an entirely separate area of stress focused around athletic performance. This is where yoga comes into play, and you will be amazed at how much of an impact a consistent practice can really make.
Here is why college athletes should do yoga:
Learn To Focus
One of the biggest issues college students and athletes seem to struggle with while in school is the ability to remain focused while there is so much opportunity for distraction and lack of motivation. However, in order to be both a successful student and athlete, maintaining good focus is one of the most important components necessary for a successful career. Here yoga can help an athlete maintain focus even during the most distracting of situations. The breath work done in most yoga classes, either during the beginning and end of practice or throughout the entire session, has been known to help a persons mind stay in the present moment, rather than looking forward into the future or back into the past. This is an especially critical trait to master as a student athlete during an athletic event or during a difficult exam, when there may be a million other things trying to pull the athletes mind away from the task at hand. Through yoga an athlete is able to learn how to stay focused in the present moment, enabling the best of outcomes to be reached, both on an educational and athletic level.
Increase Athletic Performance
College athletes have a lot riding on their shoulders, think scholarships, school funding, and overall school morale. So much of these aspects of college come down to how a schools team is performing and we all know that every team is made up of a bunch of highly trained individuals. While your typical training plan is great for most athletes, a lot of college athletes find themselves getting either injured or hitting a peak in their athletic career where there seems to be no more room for improvement. By adding yoga into the mix we are able to push back that inevitable athletic peak and increase athletic performance on a team wide basis. For example, one of the main reasons athletes are incapable of increasing their speed is due to stiffness in the joints, and lack of flexibility and motility throughout the muscles. Because the practice of yoga focuses so strongly on lengthening the body through deep stretching, over time flexibility in postures will increase, causing an increase motility and overall a better functioning athletic body perfect for high intensity athletic performance.
Get A “Do One Thing A Day That Scares You” Mentality
So much of what the practice of yoga encompasses is having the understanding that we as individuals are in charge of how we live our lives. We are in charge of deciding the paths we choose to follow, and how hard we choose to work. We are in charge of our future, and we can create anything we put our mind to. In the practice of yoga, there is no room for holding back any feelings or emotions, everything in you is poured out onto your mat, left for you to confront when the time presents itself. For college athletes, yoga can be an incredibly freeing practice and a place where they can give themselves the permission to make the decisions that want to see shape their lives and athletic careers. In my own personal experience, more than anything, yoga has taught me how to learn to respect the body I was given, and understand just how much it can do for me.