1. Understand How Yoga Benefits Athletes. The postures, breathing and inner focus of yoga can help balance, strengthen and restore overtaxed muscles, joints and ligaments. In addition to elongating tight, fatigued and shortened muscles, yoga helps calm and clear the mind.

2. Choose the Yoga Style Right for You. Whereas some athletes prefer a style that emphasizes holding postures for longer durations, others like a style that emphasizes maintaining optimal alignment. Similarly, whereas some
gravitate toward a style that accentuates the spiritual aspects of yoga, others relate better to a more physically oriented style. Hatha yoga is an umbrella term for many different styles of yoga. Here are brief descriptions of its more popular forms:

  • Ashtanga Vinyasa. One of the most
    physically demanding forms of yoga,
    Ashtanga Vinyasa emphasizes strength,
    flexibility and stamina by combining
    breath work and a series of poses often
    done in quick succession.
  • Iyengar.Considered one of the most
    therapeutic forms of yoga, Iyengar
    emphasizes alignment through the use
    of props such as chairs, blankets, blocks,
    straps and pillows. It is especially good
    for beginners.
  • Bikram. Also called “hot yoga,” this
    form of yoga focuses on the repetition
    of 26 poses, each performed twice. It
    is typically done in a very hot room to
    warm the joints for movement.
  • Kripalu. This gentle form of yoga
    focuses on the mind-body connection
    through the practice of meditation
    during poses.
  • Kundalini. Also appropriate for
    beginners, this form of yoga incorporates
    stretching, breathing and meditation.
  • Vinyoga.Usually taught one-on-one,
    this form of yoga encourages students
    to work at their own pace, coordinating
    their movements with their breathing
    and awareness.

3. Learn More About Yoga for Athletes. To start your yoga practice, take group classes or private yoga lessons at a fitness facility or yoga studio. In addition, visit www.yogajournal.com, www.anusarayoga.com and www.poweryoga.com.