YOGA is the training tool of choice for athletes competing in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Asana creates balanced yet loose muscles, increased body awareness, and mental focus; while attention to the breath helps to control pre-race jitters.
For athletes that are pushing physical and mental limits on a daily basis, yoga provides an opportunity to let go. "Yoga has taught me balance and acceptance," shares Chandra Crawford, of the Canadian cross country ski team. She also believes yoga has improved her focus during races. Many athletes try yoga while in rehabilitation from injuries to remain active while healing, and never stop. Shannon Deanne Bahrke of the U.S. Freestyle Ski team doesn't enjoy stretching, but enjoys her yoga practice because "it's more about moving in your own body and being centered and strong." Figure skaters, freestyle and cross country skiers and speed skaters have all included yoga as part of their training.
The synergistic energy of yoga is also attractive to athletes who are used to competing against others to gain advantages. In a group yoga class bodies are working as one to energize and renew. You don't have to be an elite athlete to seek a chance to SLOW down and reconnect to balance. A consistent yoga practice helps to expand our ability to remain focused on the finish line; whether it's competing for a gold medal, completing a report for the boss, or remaining patient while a toddler ties his shoe for the first time. (to read more about yoga of champions, pick up the February 2010 edition of Yoga Journal magazine)