YOGA FOR HOCKEY – As many athletes are starting to build their off season training plan, try adding a few of these simple yoga postures to your regular routine or cool-down. These asanas are intended to promote strength, flexibility and breath control, to make getting the puck down the ice a breeze. Hold each pose for five full breathes to build strength, flexibility and focus.
Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I)
Yoga, unlike some hockey games, is a non-violent sport; however, Warrior 1 pose reflects the inner spiritual warrior, building focus and confidence. This all-in-one pose strengthens and stretches the chest, lungs, shoulders, neck, belly, groin, thighs, calves and ankles.
Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II)
This grounding pose promotes the stability and stamina required for big hits that tough guys throw during games. It’s the complete package for all hockey players, as it strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles, while giving the groin, chest, and shoulders a deep stretch.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
This compressing pose generates joint stability and balance as well as building focus and concentration. Full attention must be given to both the upper and lower body to create balance. This pose compresses and opens the major joints of the body with strengthening the ankles and calves. The muscles of the thighs, hips, shoulders and upper back are stretched while tension is released on exhales.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Quad strength is integral to speed and agility. Chair pose strengthens the ankles, thighs and calves, while lengthening the spine and chest. To up the ante on this pose, try lifting your toes off the ground while sitting back further into your heels or place a block between your thighs and squeeze to develop stronger balance.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
The key to skating well is balance. Through practicing tree pose, you will improve the ability to center and re-stabilize yourself when faced with a wobbly, off-centered moment. Explore this pose with your eyes closed for a challenge to your sense of balance.
A strong core is integral to keeping you balanced, centers and in control, both on and off the ice. Plank pose is an excellent pose to practice to increase core and arm strength. To increase balance, try lifting one leg off the ground at a time or moving over into side plank.
Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
By stretching the inner thighs, groins and knees, this pose gets into all the spots that are usually tight and sore from a hard skate. Increased blood circulation in the lower abdomen and the calming of the nervous system allows players gain control of their game for more calm and disciplined plays.
Pigeon Pose (or variations such as Thread the Needle)
This pose is an extremely effective hip opener, which aims to increase the external rotation of the femur bone in the hip socket as well as lengthening the psoas muscle (the hip flexor that connects the torso to the leg). Hip flexors can be strained during overuse and repetitive motions in skating and during stop and start play, so to avoid injury, work gradually into full pigeon. Use variations such as Thread the Needle as a starting point to soften the areas of tension and to create length and opening through the hips.
A big thanks to Y Yoga for their awesome post at http://www.yyoga.ca/blog/yoga-for-hockey/