When you think of a basketball player, you probably don’t picture them doing yoga. Yoga, however, is extremely beneficial to all athletes and many top NBA players from Blake Griffin to LeBron James and even retired NBA legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar swear by it. Regular yoga practice will help reduce injury by loosening the muscles before a game, improve balance, reduce post-game soreness, and calm the mind. Here we selected five yoga exercises that can benefit your game.
As a basketball player, you spent hours at a time, running and jumping around. This has a massive impact on your hips, knees and lower back. The Pigeon pose is a great way to stretch before and after a game to open the hips and groin, assist in recovery and strengthen the lower back. This pose also contradicts knee injuries.
How to: Start by standing in a table position (sit on your knee’s and bend over, supporting your upper body with stretched arms) Then bring your left leg forward, so your left ankles comes to your right hand and keep your knee directly in line with your ankle. Then slide your right leg all the way back. On inhale lift up your upper body a bit and on exhale lower back down. Repeat this breathing movement while holding the pose for a few minutes.
Warrior II is the perfect pre-game exercise. It will give you time to focus, breathe and work on balance, while simultaneously strengthening your arms and stretching out the shoulder and leg muscles. This pose also warms up your ankles by doing a slight rotation in the back foot, while keeping the front foot steady. Make sure to switch sides so both ankles can warm up.
How to: Point your right foot straight in front of you and place your left foot behind you, toes pointing at a 45-degree angle away from your body. Keeping your torso facing forward, bring both arms overhead. Point your fingers towards the sky and hold. Lower your arms and repeat the move on the other side.
Extended Side Angle
The extended side angle pose benefits on multiple fronts; it opens up your hips, helps work the adductor and abductor muscles, stretches the upper and lower back, opens up the chest and lungs, and warms up the shoulders.
How to: With your feet wide apart and turn out your left foot 90 degrees. Bend the left knee until it’s over the ankle. then place your left hand on the floor and extend your right arm overhead. Rotate your chest outwards and hold for one minute. Repeat the movement on the opposite side.
The downward facing dog is probably the most worldly known yoga pose out there, but still very effective. It’s the perfect exercise for stretching hamstrings, back and shoulder muscles, while also building upper-body strength.
How to: Place your feet hip-width apart and bend down, placing your hands shoulder-width apart. Move your feet backward, away from your hand to form an upside-down v. Lengthen through the shoulders and hold the pose for at least a minute. Repeat five times.
The forward bend is the ultimate cooling down after a game. The force of your feet pounding on the floor while chasing the ball up and down the court tends to go straight to your lower back. This yoga pose will help reduce the tension and lengthen the muscles in your lower back.
How to: Stand up straight and lock your arms above your head. Breathe in and as you exhale lean forward as far as you can while keeping your legs straight.