Yoga for High Performance

Emerging more and more are stories of professional athletes and CEOs worldwide who stay on top of their game through yoga; Le Bron James, Lance Armstrong, Cadel Evans and Chip Wilson spring to mind. It has, and continues, to allow them to be active individuals, preventing injuries and improving their overall fitness and state of mind.

If you’re an athletically active person, accustomed to moving the body in vigorous ways it can leave your muscles, joints and tendons feeling stressed out. And if you don’t want to give sporting pursuits up, sooner or later you’ll need to take some preventative measures so that you don’t break – literally.  In the same way that yoga makes movement more sustainable for physically active people, those in highly stressful management roles benefit from activities that train the nervous system and allow them for grace under pressure.

So for the skeptics or those that need a little more yoga motivation; here are three reasons why yoga helps you stay on top of your game:

Sharp focus and higher productivity

Deep breathing coupled with physical postures delivers oxygen to every part of the body. When done consciously it can leave you feeling rejuvenated and invigorated and able to perform tasks with more focus. In addition to this, setting aside time each day to practice meditation of some sort clears the head which in turn means more concise decision-making.

Injury prevention and acute co-ordination

A heightened awareness of the body, encouraged and generated through yoga, as well as mobilization of joints means your movements are more fluid and you’re less likely to injure yourself. When we soften the muscles, we improve flexibility and endurance – advantageous for any athletic pursuit. Stretching removes lactic acid, which would otherwise be accumulated in the body from physical activity.

Increased energy levels

Yoga is one of the most effective and natural ways to instantly boost and balance energy levels. The winning combination of deep breathing, stretching and strengthening as well as massaging the internal organs and releasing toxins makes it the most effective and potent concoction for organic and green energy. So unlike the high you get from coffee, it’s a more stabilized and long-lasting form of energy.

It’s highly recommended that you go to a beginners yoga class but to get you started, the following are some postures that can be used to release the hips, ITBs, hamstring and shoulders – areas physically active people commonly feel tight.

What you’ll need:

  • Yoga mat or beach towel
  • Strap or old tie


Sit/stand with the spine straight. Take your hands out shoulder height. From here, wrap your right arm under the left, stacking elbows and wrapping the wrists so that palms come together (or at least towards each other). If your shoulders are super tight and you can’t wrap just give yourself a big hug. Wherever you are, lift the elbows up and away and actively draw the shoulder blades down the back. Isolate the breath into that space between the shoulder blades. 10 deep breaths. Swap sides.


Come into a lunge position with your right leg forward, ensuring your right knee and ankle are in line. Your left knee is on the floor and your hands are on your hips. Sink the hips forward and down until you get a comfortable stretch in your left hip flexor. 10 breaths.

From this point, take your hands to the floor and drop your right knee and thigh. If you are quite tight in the hips the right foot will come a little closer to the groin. If you’re hips are open the right shin will be almost parallel to the front of your mat. Your hips should be level. Choose to stay here or go a little deeper and rest on your forearms or with the hands straight out in front with your forehead resting on the floor. 10 deep breaths.

Swap sides and do both postures above on the left side.


Lie down with the left leg straight along the mat. Keep the left leg active and the foot flexed. Loop the strap around the right foot and flex it. Press your right heel towards the ceiling, extending your leg. As you inhale work on lengthening the hamstring and as you exhale work on easing the foot back towards your head. 10 deep breaths.


On the same leg take the strap into your left hand. Slowly ease your right foot over to the left. Maintain a fairly straight leg, bending if you need to. This is a really tricky posture so feeling uncomfortable is normal. Breathe through it with long exhalations. Ten breaths. Do both of the above on the second side.

[box type=”important”]Remember that stretching may be uncomfortable, but it should be pain-free. When possible breath in and out of your nose and try to stay present to any discomfort. Use your exhalations to soften the body. You’ll be surprised and how much further you will progress when you listen and work with the breath.[/box]



Kate Kendall is a Sydney based yoga teacher, writer and founder of Flow Athletic. Kate Kendall Yoga

One thought on “Yoga for High Performance

  • December 2, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    well i have resisted yoga for so long even though i’ve been asked to join a class, I plan to check into cause I want to get my AFFA certification to be a group leader or whatever class I enjoy the most, be it spinning, zumba, pilates or yoga…now where is that football pic I loved so much last night?? Haha I loved it! I love you! Got my townhome unit 401 deposit in, 2550 sq ft.4br 3 1/2 bath utilities included for $1800/mo. Super nice Christian man/family who are not coming back for several years and wanted someone nice to take care of it…Covington Ridge. Move date 12/27. I am so happy about it and I have 5 months to get it ready for the kids not that it will take that long but…i want to see you, love you….


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