(Yoga is today practiced by the world’s top athletes in every sport. So add a few yogic stretches and asanas that will help you play like a Pro! A year ago I had the opportunity to teach a team of professional footballers. Soon we all realised that apart from Flexibility-training; practicing Yoga helped them to add strength to their muscles in a way that was different from the gym-work. The other benefit is that Yoga helps players stay largely injury-free or helps them recover better from injuries. No wonder, Manchester United star– Ryan Giggs, recently launched a DVD called ‘Yoga for Footballers’. He credits it with helping him stay at the top of world football for 20 years!
Please note that this article is intended for the average once-a-week player as much as for the Pro.
Yogi Tip! Please consult a qualified yoga teacher or write in if you have any injuries before attempting any of the poses described.
Everyone is sore after a game of footie! And generally we find that the hamstrings, thighs and lower back have gotten ‘tight’. Tight hamstrings are perhaps one of the biggest worries for a player.
Also, when you need to unleash your kick, you need a very good follow-through of the leg (flexibility) to go with extremely toned thighs (strength). Watch David Beckham or Ronaldinho kick a free-kick to appreciate the need of flexibility and balance along with strength.
Padahastasana with legs stretched
Pawanmuktasana series: Ankle Rotations
(Most players over a course of time will develop some ankle pain; so it’s important to loosen them before and after playing.)
Supta Vajrasana (Supine Diamond pose)
This is the best stretch for your thighs; practice this one leg at a time. First just rest on your elbows and only if you are comfortable; then lie down fully. Then, do the asana with both legs.
STRENGTHEN your thighs for explosive kicking!
These classic yogasanas will strengthen your thighs (quadriceps), outer thighs, hamstrings and glutes making your entire game much more powerful!
Yogi Tip! Hold each of the Asana described for 30sec -1 minute with slow, deep breathing.
Natrajasana (Wide-Squat pose)
Veerabhadrasana 2 (Warrior pose 2)
Balance to be in the best position
Balance and Kinesthetic ability (your understanding of your body’s dynamics in moving space) can be trained through Yoga. Also, Football as most other sports will throw your body out-of-balance as your dominant side will get stronger and the other side will get weaker with time. So practicing Balance poses will help address that problem.
Stamina & Cardio-vascular performance:
We all know that to play football you need the running of a horse! So train your Stamina effectively through practicing 30-100 Surya Namaskaars (Sun Salutations) 2-3 times a week. (You can find a good video on youtube.com/totalyogaorg)
One of the best Cardio-vascular breathing exercises that if done regularly will ensure that you’re not panting and out of breath on the football pitch ever! Also, it will help you focus before taking that all-important penalty!
Technique: Clear each nostril one at a time with 20 forceful exhalations.
Then, breathe in and start exhaling forcefully through your nostrils so that you warm up the body and also train your heart effectively. Try 20-50 breaths at a time and later you can go up to 100 breaths at a time.
Cautionary note: Seek medical advice if you suffer from High BP.
Common Injuries: Generally injuries happen to the ankles and hamstrings. Rest your body the next day and if you feel better – start stretching yourself as described daily before the next weekend game!
Enjoy FOOTBALL! Enjoy YOGA!!