When you think of basketball players, you probably don’t think of them doing yoga. Basketball is so macho, right? And the very thought of some of the most talented players out there in a quirky yoga pose might seem a bit amusing.
Laugh all you want though, because more and more pro athletes, particularly basketball players, are turning to yoga. Why? Because it helps maintain flexibility and durability, as well as prevents injury too.
More and more ballers are turning to yoga and it’s not just to watch the ladies in those yoga pants. There are some genuinely remarkable benefits for taking up yoga for basketball players. For one, it helps you get in the game better. It also lightens your movements on your feet, keeps you from injuries, helps you stay calm in the face of big emotions, and even makes you taller. Not that players need to worry about that, but it could give them a little more edge for a slam dunk.
One of the biggest draws though is that yoga can help basketball players avoid injuries. Injuries can keep you on the bench and who wants that? If you can prevent something from happening, wouldn’t you? You might not be able to control much in life, but you can control your body and using yoga as a measure of preventative maintenance is a smart move for athletes.
Plenty of basketball players have manned-up to using yoga for preventing injury, healing after injury, or just becoming more agile. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar isn’t ashamed to admit it. In fact, he’s one of the biggest voices behind using yoga as a way to become a better athlete. “Basketball is an endurance sport, and you have to learn to control your breath; that's the essence of yoga, too. So, I consciously began using yoga techniques in my practice and playing. I think yoga helped reduce the number and severity of injuries I suffered. As preventative medicine, it's unequaled.”
His fearless admission was what prompted others to try it. Blake Griffin of the Clippers said, “For me, flexibility is huge. Staying loose and healthy and staying limber--you can tell a difference when your muscles are tight or when you're stretched out and completely relaxed.”
7 Best Poses of yoga for Basketball Players.
Want to be like the pros? Then try these 7 all-star yoga poses for basketball players to really up your game!
01. High Plank Pose.
Benefits: Strengthen your wrist shoulders and core muscles. Tone your abdomen. Improve your posture and reduce back pains. Improve your balance which results in better movement and coordination. Along with other enormous benefits, this is a foundational pose for beginners to train them for advance hand balancing poses.
Tips: If you start to feel your core failing and your lower back begins to arch, take your knees down. You risk injury to your lower back by continuing plank with an arched back. If holding a plank for a longer period is difficult, rest your both knees and alternate knees time to time.
02. Standing Forward Fold.
Benefits: Stretches spine and hamstring muscles which reduces the chances of injuries and maintain flexibility improvised body posture. Calms your mind and helps to relieve you from a stress headache and mild depression. Stimulate abdominal organs for better digestion.
Tips: Don’t round your back by bringing your shoulders forward. If flexibility is an issue let your knees slightly bend and deepen the stretch with every exhale. For modification place a yoga block in front your feet and grab it while bending.
03. High Lunge Pose.
Benefits: Increase stability and flexibility in hip flexors while also opening the front torso, chest, and shoulders. It strengthens and tones the thighs, hips, and butt. Develop endurance in your thighs while focusing on balance to improve your sprinting ability and strength in single leg squats or lunges.
Tips: Start with a closer stance if your back is arching (i.e., you feel pinching in your lower back). Keep hips even, facing forward. Ribs draw in towards one another to prevent puffing of the chest and arching of the back
04. Downward Dog Pose.
Benefits: Provide a great stretch to the entire backside, open the shoulders to get a better range of motion. Enhance shoulder and forearm strength while lengthening calf and hamstring muscles. Excellent pose for maintaining a proper running posture in long runs. Moreover, increase blood flow towards brain which decreases stress and enhances productivity.
Tips: Watch out for any hyper-extension of elbows and knees. If you feel too much pressure on your shoulders, shorten the distance between your hands and feet, or allow your knees to bend until you feel an even stretch throughout your entire back. If your hamstrings are tight and your spine is rounding, bend both knees slightly and tip your pelvis so that the tailbone reaches upward. Focus on a long spine by pressing into your palms and lifting your hips.
05. Extended Side Angle Pose.
Benefits: Stretches and relieves stiffness in neck, shoulders and back muscles. Provides a deep stretch to the groins and hamstrings for better hip flexibility and strength. Strengthen core muscles for better upper body control tone your abs and side muscles.
Tips: Keep your upper body lifted. Use the leading arm to open the hip further, pressing the knee further outside. For a more relaxed version rest your front elbow over front knee.
06. Pigeon Pose.
Benefits: Often known as the king of hip openers, this pose provides numerous benefits to yoga practitioners from all backgrounds. Pigeon pose not only relieves stress from legs due to the excessive labor of legs during sports, physical training or daily routines but also stretches your lower back muscles. Not only relaxes your mind and body but also prevents you from sports-related injuries.
Tips: Press the hips down and in the direction of the bent leg, to rest the thigh as close as possible to the ground. Avoid pressure in your knee. Stay away from knee pain in the pose. If pain does occur, come out of this pose immediately.
07. Warrior II Pose.
Benefits: This is a deep hip-opening pose that strengthens the muscles in the thighs and buttocks which improve the power in your hips for twisting movements such as swinging in golf and baseball back-flipping in jujitsu and M.M.A or changing direction in football. It tones the abdomen, ankles, and arches of the feet. This pose also opens the chest and shoulders, improving breathing capacity and increasing circulation throughout the body.
Tips: Squeeze your legs toward one another to draw your hips under your torso and tilt your pelvis slightly upward to protect your lower back and engage your core. Keep your arms active by engaging the muscles in your arms. If feeling too much pressure on the front foot, change the knee angle of the front leg.
And if you are looking for some more yoga poses and further guidance do check out our ultimate yoga assessment guide. As it comes with every thing, a yoga practitioner needs when practicing solo.
Thanks for staying till here.
And by the way, if you are thinking of buying a yoga mat. Do check out our ultimate guide to buying the best yoga mats.
Take good care of yourself