Our host, Renee Harrington is a Lecturer in NC State University’s Department of Health and Exercise Studies, an E-RYT 500-level yoga instructor, and Senior Master Trainer for YogaFit.
With over a decade of experience as an instructor/presenter, Renee blends her knowledge in exercise physiology, nutrition, and biomechanical principles with personal experience to provide valuable information and practical tips for athletic performance, stress management, and metabolic aspects of physical activity.
The 5 Components of Fitness
Yoga benefits athletes by providing an opportunity to balance the five components of fitness through an inverse and complementary relationship with their sport training.
Physical fitness is defined as, "a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity”.
The 5 Components
- Muscular Endurance
- Muscular Strength
- Cardio-Respiratory Fitness
- Body Composition
Pro Tip: Training effect is evident after 6 weeks of training; deconditioning effect within 2 weeks of inactivity
Mobility & Flexibility of Yoga
Yoga provides a means to increase flexibility and mobility which aids in injury prevention by addressing muscle imbalances.
- How well a joint can move
- Control through ROM
- Protects Against Inquiry
- How far a joint can move
- Increasing range of motion
- Does not protect against injury
Yoga brings us into and through all planes of motion.
Example Multi-Directional Flow Sequence:
- Down Dog
- Twisting Lunge
- Side Angle
- 3-Legged Dog
- Down Dog
Yoga for Injury Prevention
The Cumulative Injury Cycle
Yoga Sequence for Muscle Imbalance
- Chest expansion
- Low lunge
- Prayer twist lunge
- Child’s pose
All About Breath
The quality of breath will determine quality of performance.
- Improves aerobic capacity
- Trains parasympathetic nervous system
- Some are energizing, others are calming
There are different kinds of breath practices for athletes. Diaphragmatic Breath, Alternate Nostril Breathing, Breathe of Joy. (see slide 11 in handout)
Quick Meditations For Athletes
Check out these quick meditations that Renee has created!
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF Stretching)
PNF stretching techniques can be used to lengthen and stretch muscles without compromising strength. Temporary contraction of the target muscle in order to stimulate the GTO. GTO signals the muscle to relax
- Set length – point where brain recognizes end of stretch
- Gently contract – 20% for 2-3 breaths (5-10 sec)
- Relax for one deep breath
- Go deeper – contract opposite muscle to take up “slack”
- Complete 2-3 cycles
See slides 18-19 for more information
How many times should you repeat the multi-directional flow sequence before your sport? Does it replace a warm up?
How many times you do the flow depends on the person and what the activity is. Renee suggests anywhere between 4-6 rounds as a good start. This flow is designed to be a part of the athletes warm up.
Should you do the multidirectional flow before or after a race?
It can be used for both. The sequence can be done a little more flowing/faster with the breath to get warmed up before a race or workout; or can be done a little slower/mindfully afterwards as part of the cool-down
What would you recommend if someone was recovering from injury? Modifications?
It is largely dictated by what the injury is/where it is in the body. The first is to always move in full pain-free range of motion. Maintain range of motion is important so substituting out an alternate pose or more gentle pose is a great idea. Also, work more with the other limbs of yoga - spend more time with breath and mindfulness. In our Injury Prevention and Recovery training we go much more in depth to this type of thing.
Thoughts on Yin Yoga and it's ability to strengthen connective tissue.
We know that Yin Yoga has longer holds and puts traction on your connective tissue for strengthening. One thing to caution with Yin Yoga, is the timing and approach with athletes or anyone who is doing especially vigorous workouts. When you hold longer than that 2 to 3 minutes it will temporarily weaken the muscle fibers for the next 24 hours. In order to not injure yourself, Renee recommends Yin yoga in the off season or adding it to a training regiment if it is timed properly.
What is a sequence you recommend for tight glutes?
Stretching with a few different variations of pigeon pose but don't go directly to prone pigeon instead try supine pigeon or standing pigeon. This questions relates to the mobility and flexibility points. So with prone pigeon it would be flexibility whereas standing pigeon you are neutral with gravity and you have your strength to move into the pose it doesn't put much strain on your flexibility. Another pose that would be beneficial is prayer twist lunge.
Do you teach alternative nostril breath with or without a retention pre-event?
Any breath techniques you can use breath retention where there is like a pause or space in the breath. Renee always leaves this to comfort. It depends what the activity is you are preparing for.
Any tips on how to go about pitching our yoga offerings to sports teams/athletes?
Talk about the benefits - balancing out the components of fitness, flexibility and mobility, injury prevention, the added mental benefit of yoga, etc. Also take the concept of a "yoga snack" that I mentioned - you can offer to use the first or last 15, 20, or 30 mins of their practice (it does not need to be a full hour to be effective for the athlete)
Work With Renee!
Anyone is welcome to reach out to Renee via email (email@example.com) to see if she is teaching one of the trainings listed on the YogaFit website (they have about 25 trainers across the US).
In the meantime, here are the ones so far on the schedule coming up that Renee will be teaching:
- Feb 19 - YogaCore/YogaStrength
- Feb 20 - YogaFit Sweat
- Mar 5-6 - Anatomy 2
- Mar 12 - Personal Trainers
- Mar 19 - YogaFit Sweat
- Mar 26 - Anatomy 2
- Apr 15-16 - Yoga for Athletes
- Apr 24-25 - Anatomy 2
- May 3-4 - Anatomy 1
- June 27 - YogaBack
- June 12-13 - Anatomy 1
- June 18 - Personal Trainers
- June 19-20 - Yoga for Athletes
- June 25-26 - Injury Prevention
Learn More About YogaFit
YogaFit holds over a thousand trainings annually and many Mind Body Fitness Conferences worldwide. YogaFit trainings and educational sessions can be found incorporations, fitness clubs, universities, wellness centers and military bases.
YogaFit emphasizes sports science and alignment principles, as well as the ancient traditions of Yoga. Bringing Yoga to everybody in a safe, accessible and adaptable way, YogaFit allows for a full range of fitness levels, age groups, and health conditions while maintaining the essence of the traditional practice.