Within the past decade, many different styles of yoga and movement have influenced Irene Pappas’s practice and teaching. “I started with weightlifting, then found Rocket and Ashtanga yoga, and eventually added in gymnastics-style strength training and calisthenics,” she says. Her teaching incorporates concepts from each of these movement styles into a yogasana-based flow designed to build strength and improve mobility.
This creative sequence from Pappas includes her favorite squats and leg lifts within a vinyasa flow, but each move can also be practiced on its own. She likes to warm up with a few minutes of light cardio and a wrist routine, but she says you can also start with some Sun Salutations or even just a Downward-Facing Dog.
This practice is meant to be a challenge, so don’t get discouraged if you find it difficult. “You might not be able to do all of these exercises the first time you try them— I definitely couldn’t,” Pappas says. “The first step is committing your mind to doing the hard work, and the physical strength will follow!”
Improve flexibility and mobility in your hamstrings for better performance and to prevent injuries.
Hamstrings are a group of muscles that run along the back of your thighs, starting at your lower pelvis and attaching to your knee and lower legs. They are often the culprit for various sports injuries and chronic pain due to tightness. Once your hamstrings are tight, it can lead to poor posture, low-back pain, and a variety of other issues. Yoga poses can be critical additions to most training programs since they can help improve flexibility and mobility in your hamstrings and set you up for better movement patterns while running, biking, and playing sports. Here, three key benefits of yoga for athletes, plus six poses to support your sport.
1. Improved Performance and Joint Health
The posterior chain (muscles along the back of your body) is vital in all aspects of athletic performance. Strong and flexible hamstrings can improve running efficiency, agility, and power. Your body will recruit other muscle groups when needing to compensate for tight hamstrings, which will require more energy and can contribute to injuries. A full range of motion will also ensure healthy joints.
2. A Healthy Spine
Tight hamstrings reduce the mobility of your pelvis, which in turn increases strain and pressure on your lower back. Your hamstrings are an essential part of your knees, pelvis, and spine health. Flexibility in this area will support a proper upright posture. Everyday movement patterns like walking, running, sitting lead to shortening and tightening of your hamstring muscles. Consistent stretches to increase flexibility in this area will counter and bring them back to a balanced and healthy state.
3. Lower Risk of Injuries
If your hamstrings are tight, it can cause the posterior (rear) tilt of your pelvis and lead to strain and weakness …