I had so much fun watching the world cup these past couple of weeks! I love how these events really bring everyone together and it’s exhilarating to watch the speed, agility and coordination of these amazing soccer players. Baby Timothy loved it when a goal was scored and the announcer shouted: “GOAL!!!” Soccer requires strength, athleticism, flexibility, core strength and power – all of which yoga can bring. It got me wondering – how many male athletes know that yoga, often thought of as a “female” exercise, can actually help them improve their sport? Not many I bet!
Well let’s spread the word! For all the athletes (male or female) out there, here are some great yoga poses to improve your athleticism and your soccer game:
Flying eagle: Eagle pose not only helps with focus and concentration, it opens up tight shoulders, hips and lower back muscles. It connects us to our core strength, works our balance and tones the inner thighs, hips and waist. It is perfect to strengthen legs and create focus before a big game. To do flying eagle, before you wrap your legs and arms for eagle pose, start with arm and legs out to the side (like you’re flying).
Warrior 2: Carefully step your right leg far back (as long as one of your own leg’s lengths) as you bend your front knee, then lift your torso up in to Warrior 2. You want to make sure the front knee is directly over the ankle and not rolling in. Keep the back leg straight and strong and the torso even between both legs. Stretch your arms out to your sides and gaze over the front hand. Hold 5-8 breaths.
King Arthur: This is one of my fav soccer stretches! It helps to stretch out the psoas and hip flexors, and helps to elongate the front of the quadriceps, which enables you to move more fully, improving agility. Begin in a tabletop position (on hands and knees) facing away from a wall, with your toes tucked under and the soles of your feet against the wall. Take your bent left knee to the base of the wall, where the wall meets the floor, and slide your left shin vertically up the wall, with the left foot pointed so that the toes point straight up. Step your right foot forward so that the right leg is in a lunge, with the knee stacked directly over the ankle and bent to 90 degrees. Lengthen your tailbone down and find a neutral pelvis, countering the tendency for the hips to tilt forward in an effort to avoid the stretch here. Keep pressing the top of the left foot into the wall, and find a lift in your ribs.
Hero’s pose: This is a great stretch for the quadriceps muscles, which can often get tight from running and quick foot steps on the field.. Secondly, it’s a great place to meditate and watch your breath and get centered before a game. If your knees bother you, you can sit up on a block or pillow. Start kneeling, roll your calf flesh back and out to the sides as you sit down in between your heels. Anchor your sits bones in to the mat; and rest your hands on your knees with thumbs and forefingers joined and palms open. Close your eyes if you wish or keep them open and watch your breath for 1 to 2 minutes (longer if you can).
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!
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