Whether you are a peak performing parkour athlete or a beginner with aches and pains in all the wrong places, picking up a yoga practice could be the solution to fixing many of your problems. Parkour is a sport that when practiced, incorporates a fair amount of impact on your muscles and joints. Overtime, like with most sports, this will develop into tight muscles in your legs and hips and lead to various aches and pains. As we age our bodies become less resilient and we need to incorporate a little bit of maintenance into our routine and yoga is the perfect solution for that. Yoga will help improve flexibility, joint stability and help create a more mindful athlete.
Yoga can greatly help increase flexibility in your hips, hamstrings, and ankles through various different yoga poses. Poses such as Big toe and Downward Facing Dog really help stretch and lengthen the hamstrings and hips. Increased hamstring flexibility will help you reach and be more comfortable going for much bigger challenges. Holding these different yoga poses also helps strengthen joint stability in the ankles and in the knees, which should then make all of your landings feel much stronger and confident. Whether it be a season practitioner or beginner, increased joint stability will make any challenge or skill much more comfortable to attempt. The lower back is also a key area to strengthen because it tends to take a lot of shock from training and tends to be a common problem area for most athletes.
Yoga introduces the concept of mindfulness which if applied to parkour can help increase the athlete's ability to stay calm when faced with a scary challenge. It does this by trying to deliberately place the person’s attention on their breath as they are going through different yoga poses. If you aren’t familiar with the difficulty of trying to hold a downward dog pose, most people are breathing heavy only a few minutes into the pose. A key element of any athlete is to be able to complete a mentally difficult challenge with the ability to stay calm during that challenge. There are many ways to try and stay calm in any given situation, however, one actionable way to try and calm yourself down is to slow down and deepen your breathing. In an article written by Martin P. Paulus, MD titled The Breathing Conundrum-Interoceptive Sensitivity, he writes how “Altered breathing may be useful as a physiological marker of anxiety as well as a treatment target using interoceptive interventions.” He continues to write that, “ Manipulating breathing opens the possibility for both assessing the significance of specific physiological pathways in anxiety and as a technique to intervene in order to lower anxiety levels.” Which means that you can use your breathing to assess how anxious or nervous you are about a given situation, in this case, a jump or challenge, and use that awareness to slow your breathing to actively try and reduce your anxiety. However, you can not use a technique such as this if you are not simply aware of your breathing at all, which is where yoga can bring that into awareness.
No matter what level athlete you are it is important to be a well-rounded one. To become a well-rounded athlete you need to be both flexible and strong in your movements and in your mental game. Yoga can help you become physically strong while training your mind to deal with scary and uncomfortable situations. Whether you are lacking flexibility in your movements, concentration, or the ability to slow your breathing and control your fear; practicing yoga will help push you to become a better more rounded athlete.
PPK Philly Team