Yin/Restorative Yoga for Athletes

This is a really great practice to do especially when the body is starting to feel fatigued. Yin is excellent for increasing mobility in the body, especially in the joints and hips as well as lubricating and protecting the joints in order to help prevent the body from getting injured due to repetitive motions found in your specific sport. I’ve put suggested time frames for how long you should stay in each pose, but ultimately you will need to listen to your body and only do what it allows you to. Take breaks when needed and be sure to relax and enjoy each pose.

Savasana– Lie on your back with the arms and legs extended. Take up space with your entire body. Turn your palms to face up and let the shoulders and hips melt into the floor. Close your eyes and start to draw your awareness to the breath. Focus on extending the inhales and exhales. Notice if there are any areas in your body that are tight or tense and concentrate on sending the breath into those parts of the body. Spend as much time as you would like here.

Bananasana– Reach the arms overhead and clasp the hands behind your head. Start to walk both feet over to the right edge of your mat (keeping your hips in place) and then follow by walking the shoulders to the right, creating this banana like shape with your entire body. To deepen the stretch, cross the left ankle over the right. Stay here for 2-3 breathing into the left side of the body. To release, come back to center and repeat on other side.

Supta Padangusthasana-Place a strap, belt or a towel around the ball of your right foot. Keep your left knee bent, sole of foot on the floor. Walk hands up strap and wrap it around the hands enough so you can relax with the shoulders and heavy on the floor. The weight of the arms will create enough tension to hold the foot up. If you would like to take this a step further, begin to walk the left forward, bringing the heel onto the mat. Spend 2-3 minutes here and then release and switch sides.

Butterfly– Come up to seated and place the soles of the feet together. Slide them away from you to create a diamond like shape with the legs. Allow your back to round as you fold forward and lightly rest your hands on your feet or on the ground. Let your head hang heavy toward the floor and if you have a block (and flexibility allows) you can place it on the feet and rest the forehead on the top of it. Stay here for 3-5 minutes and then press your hands into the floor and slowly roll up. Before moving, take a few deep breaths to allow the spine to neutralize.

Toe Squat- Begin by sitting back on your shins with the feet together. Tuck the toes under and spread them away from each other. Rest on the balls on the feet and let the hips sit back onto the heels. This is a very intense stretch as it gets into the fascia on the bottom of the foot. Breathe deeply into the stretch and relax as much as possible. Try to stay for 2-3 minutes. To release, come out slowly and lean forward placing the hands to the ground in front of the knees. Lift the hips and release the feet. You can even sway the feet from side to side for a few moments.

Ankle Stretch– Sit back onto the heels again but this time the tops of the feet will be on the floor. (If you have any knee or ankle pain, omit this pose). This might be enough of a stretch here or you can place your hands in front your knees and press into the hands to lift the knees a few inches of the mat. This pose is also fairly intense so only hold as long as you’re able and gently release by lowering the knees and stepping the feet back one at a time into plank pose.

Sphinx– Lower from plank onto your belly. Place the forearms onto the mat with the elbows just below the shoulders and lift the chest. If this doesn’t feel well in your lower back, walk the elbows a bit forward; which will lower the chest closer to the floor. If there are any sharp pains or aches then release the chest to the floor. Simply lying on your belly may be a good enough back bend for you. Remain in this pose for up to 5 minutes pressing down gently with the forearms, pelvis and toes. To release, lower the chest to the floor and rest your cheek to one side for a few moments then press up and come onto your back.

Reclining Pigeon-Once on your back, bend the knees and take the feet to the floor. Cross the right ankle over the left thigh. Stay here if this stretch is enough or draw the left thigh closer to your belly and take the hands to the back of the left leg. Stay here for 3-4 minutes sending deep breaths into the stretch. Repeat on second side.

Viparita Karani– Keep the hips on the mat and begin to draw the knees toward the chest, taking the hands behind the thighs and gently start to extend the legs overhead. Keep a soft bend in the knees and if you feel supported enough here, you can lower your arms to the mat. Allow the head and shoulders to relax into the floor and breath into the backs of the legs as the hamstrings open up. This is a great pose to do at the wall where the weight of your legs can be completely supported. Stay here for 3-4 minutes and lower down by bending the knees and extending the legs long onto the mat.

Savasana-as long as you would like.

Enjoy!

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