Yoga Moves to Boost Your Performance

These five dynamic yoga movements will markedly improve mobility in any athlete.
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These five dynamic yoga movements will markedly improve mobility in any athlete.

Over the past decade yoga has become one of the most popular fitness modalities in the United States, and what was once a simple physical practice is now a billion-dollar industry with offshoots such as Boxing Yoga, Bikram Yoga, PiYo and yoga with goats (seriously). But you can adopt some simple dynamic yoga moves that will enhance your performance without being climbed on by a goat.

Modern yoga emphasizes balance, flexibility, mobility, strength, breath control and coordination — all skills needed for optimal performance, making it the ideal accessory to any sports-specific training program. Case in point: A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Yoga found that after 10 weeks, a group of college athletes who attended biweekly yoga classes measurably improved their balance and flexibility, and gained an average of two inches on their sit-and-reach test over the control group. Their regular yoga practice would likely translate to improved agility and reactivity on the field, according to the experts.

Ameliorate your own skills and drills with these dynamic yoga poses. Use them either as a preworkout warm-up or as a postworkout cool-down to improve squat mechanics, increase shoulder flexibility and promote lumbar spine health, among other benefits.

Low Lizard to Easy Twist

Get into a push-up position then step your right foot to the outside of your right hand. Sink your hips down and elongate your spine. Exhale and drop your right elbow to the floor. Hold that position as you inhale, then exhale and extend your right arm toward the ceiling and twist your torso to the right. Repeat the sequence 10 times and then step back into plank and switch sides.

Forward Fold and Squat

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes forward. Crouch down and grab underneath your toes with your fingers. Sink your hips down into a squat, then lift your hips and flatten your back with your elbows pressing against your knees. Exhale as you straighten your legs and drop your head into a forward fold. If you have the flexibility, keep holding your toes; otherwise you can let go. Alternate between the moves for 10 repetitions each.

Alternating High Half-Squat

Stand with your feet beyond shoulder width, toes forward. Keep your left foot flat as you bend your right knee, keeping it in line with your toes. Place your hands on the floor for balance. Hold for a count or two and then stand and switch to the other side. Continue, alternating sides, for five reps apiece.

Prone Scorpion

Lie facedown with your legs together and your arms out like a T, palms flat on the floor. Roll onto your right hip and turn your torso to the left as you bend your left knee and reach your left toes toward your right hand. Hold for a count or two and then return to the start. Continue, alternating sides, for five reps apiece.

Cow and Cat

Get on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale and arch your back, lifting your tailbone and head without putting any stress on the neck. Inhale and round your back, bringing your navel toward your spine, and tuck your chin toward your chest. Alternate between cow and cat for a total of 10 rounds.