Whether you’re an aspiring Olympian or a weekend walker, adding yoga to your exercise routine can help athletes build strength and flexibility. Yoga is a way to develop lung capacity and core conditioning, important for physical activity. A consistent yoga practice can also train athletes to focus their minds, an invaluable tool for everyone from marathon runners to bike commuters. And a series of gentle yoga stretches after a workout will help to ease tired muscles and keep you limber for next time.
While to some degree almost any Kundalini Yoga kriya will help athletes, here are some suggestions for kriyas that you might want to begin to incorporate into your regimen.
Kriya for the Sciatic Nerve from Kundalini Yoga for Youth and Joy
The sciatic nerve—also called the “life nerve” in Kundalini Yoga—is the longest and widest nerve in the body. It runs from the lower back down through the buttocks and hips and then along the backs of legs to the feet. This is also where the hamstrings are located, and for many athletes, the hamstrings are muscles that need constant work. This kriya opens the hips, hamstrings, and lower back and helps to build and maintain flexibility.
Elimination and Circulation from Introduction to Kundalini Yoga
This energetic kriya builds lung capacity and develops strength. The 108 frogs will strengthen the hips and legs (another great hamstring opener!), the 5 minutes of leg lifts will build core strength, and extensive use of breath of fire will help to expand lung capacity and detoxify the body. This kriya is a great overall workout.
Abdominal Strengthening from Sadhana Guidelines.
Another great physical workout. Athletes know the importance of core strength for endurance and balance. This kriya works powerfully on the navel point, abdominal muscles, and low back. It also improves circulation and strengthens the nervous system, so you can stay constant and keep up. In about 45 minutes, you’ll feel like a new person.
Getting the Body out of Distress from Reaching Me in Me.
If you’ve had a tough workout and need to calm down and relax, this kriya is an excellent choice. It systematically works to release tension from the legs and hips, and distributes energy throughout the body to help the body function better. This is a very gentle kriya and a good series of exercises to do every day.
Meditations from Praana Praanee Praanayam
This book is filled with dozens of different meditations that can be used to quiet and focus the mind, as well as to build lung capacity. Even yoga beginners can incorporate many of these into their daily practice. A number of these meditations use long deep breathing, which is particularly important for athletes who rely on adrenaline to keep going. Deep breathing triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, countering adrenaline spikes that can be damaging to the body if they persist too long. Other kriyas in this book involve breath retention, boosting lung capacity. And all work to deepen concentration and mental focus.
No matter what your level of athletic activity is, there are aspects of Kundalini Yoga that are bound to help you. Start to build yoga into your routine, and see for yourself if it makes a difference.