9 Ways Bikram Yoga Will Make You a Better Athlete
By Dan – Founder of YogaSol
Being athletic involves hard-core training, mental resilience, consistency and more. One often overlooked exercise activity to incorporate into your athletic training is Bikram Yoga. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, for example, have seen yoga’s benefits, including beating cramps and preventing injuries. As a former athlete myself, I can vouch for the effectiveness of adding Bikram yoga into your regular routine. From years of running, tennis, basketball and more, I have racked up my fair share of athletic injuries and chronic pain. I found Bikram Yoga later in my career, once my body was more banged and bruised than I would have liked. I recommend Bikram to athletes of all levels. Making it a consistent part of your sports training can definitely make you a better athlete. Here are 9 reasons why:
1. Prevent Injuries
Recreation- and sports-related injuries are a major issue in the United States. They account for an average estimated 8.6 million injuries every year. While about half of these injuries do not require hospitalization, they still take their toll on us in the form of chronic pain and temporary to more permanent limitations. Bikram Yoga offers a proactive method for preventing injuries.
When you practice a sport that puts pressure on one specific body part or involves repetition, such as running or cycling, the tendency is to train singularly for your sport. This might cause overuse while ignoring other muscles and promoting imbalance. This can easily lead to injury.
2. Control Breathing
The amount of control you have over breathing can affect how well you perform. In fact, one study found that you can enhance your sports performance by 15 percent when you exercise proper breathing. Bikram Yoga is a routine of 26 postures and breathing exercises, helping you learn to control your breathing. Hot yoga has even been used by Green Berets as part of their rigorous training. Because you learn to meditate and focus doing yoga, you can work to control your breathing for enhanced performance.
3. Injury Rehabilitation
Does an injury have you benched? As an athlete, there’s nothing worse than lack of physical activity. While you’re recovering from an injury, you’re looking for ways to get back out there and play again. The key is making sure you don’t do anything to exacerbate your problem or cause further pain.
Bikram Yoga is a low impact/no impact way to physically train and recover from injury. Moving without pounding means there’s no wear and tear on your joints.
“Bikram Yoga has literally changed my life during my injury.
– Lianne Sanderson, Professional Soccer Player
4. Improve Overall Strength
To perform well in marathon running or other sports that require stamina, you need to be able to build your endurance. Bikram Yoga works your entire body and builds core strength for overall endurance and flexibility.
“I’m a runner. Bikram Yoga makes me more flexible. It a really nice balance to my workout routine.”
– Lana Chin
5. Recover Faster
During high intensity, high impact training, your body produces glucose to deliver extra energy to your muscles. When this occurs in high levels, there is a build-up of lactic acid, which can cause muscle fatigue and interfere with muscle recovery. Stretching is an effective way to reduce lactic acid. The heat of the Bikram studio helps you relax and deeply stretch your muscles even more. Adding Bikram Yoga to your routine can help with active recovery from your high impact training by reducing lactic acid.
“It’s a time to repair what I’ve done on the soccer field.”
– Ashley Nick, Professional Soccer Player
6. Improve Mental Resilience
Bikram Yoga trains your mind while you tax your body. The Bikram practice is the same 26 postures, which makes it very structured and routine. The heat and humidity in the studio also provides an environment where athletes can train under the stress of extreme heat and discomfort. The 26 postures themselves are extremely challenging. This combination creates the perfect opportunity for training in self-control, determination, concentration and patience.
Practicing in heat and humidity may make you may want to take a few breaks. We encourage persevering through the discomfort to exercise your self-control and determination muscles that are so important for performing well athletically. We do suggest pausing in savasana if the discomfort becomes extreme.
Athletes are no stranger to distraction, and every great athletes knows distractions can cost dearly. Bikram is a moving meditation, which forces you to concentrate on your breath and your body. Any distractions during your practice are likely to cause stumbles or the inability to achieve a pose. Practicing helps train your mind to block distractions.
Many people are surprised by how difficult some of the postures actually are, even for those of us who are in “great athletic shape.” Each posture requires patience both to learn how to perform and also to wait and repeat so you can improve. Bikram is very much a personal practice and progress looks different for every person, no matter their athletic prowess. Pushing through these difficulties is another mental exercise in building focus and reaching new goals.
“There’s an inner turmoil in my body, mind, spirit that is crying for order and meaning, and that’s why I practice.”
– Dan Markowitz, Founder, YogaSol
7. Relieve Stress
Any athletic competition means a high stress environment because you are there to win. Performing well athletically requires physical and mental acuity, which can translate into high anxiety.
During our Bikram practice, one of the biggest benefits and contributors to stress relief are the release of toxins. Due to the high temperature and humidity of the studio during your practice, and the challenging Bikram postures, you will sweat profusely. Sweating flushes your lymphatic system and bloodstream of toxins. This includes the high stress hormone, cortisol. This high swear environment is why we remind everyone to drink lots of water before, during and after class!
Focusing on your breath during your practice also encourages your body to release tension and clear your mind. By the time you leave the studio, you will feel relaxed and relieved.
“Of any exercise I’ve ever tried, Bikram is the best when it comes to relieving stress.”
– Peter, college baseball player
8. Listen to Your Body
While participating in sports, you are concentrating on winning. Players are often taught to walk it off or play through the pain to get the W. This kind of mental conditioning means many athletes push what their bodies are telling them out of their minds. Bikram Yoga focuses on breathing and receiving feedback from your body during your practice. Adding Bikram to your routine can bring your awareness back to physical feedback, so you can safeguard your body for your best performance.
9. Keep from Getting Bored
There are points in your career where practicing your particular sport can seem more like a grind than a pleasure. How about trying Bikram Yoga to shake things up. Athletes who practice Bikram Yoga or another sport, with consistency, can keep their sport from growing stale.
Become a Better Athlete with Bikram Yoga
Now that you know how Bikram Yoga helps you become a better athlete, are you ready to give it a try? Take advantage of the benefits of Bikram yoga at Hot Yoga Hull. We also have a full range of classes so that you can balance HIIT with strength, flexibility and being in ‘The Zone’. As a bonus, at Hot Yoga Hull, we can easily modify any pose to fit your injury recovery needs. You’ll even notice progress in poses you were limited in completing when you started your injury rehabilitation.