ath·lete/ˈaTHlēt/ Noun: A person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.
Yoga can be a companion for the guys and girls that make physical fitness an integral part of their lives especially when it comes to improving things like balance, breathing, conditioning, core strength, flexibility and injury prevention. But how does the yoga mind set translate to an athlete.
Athletes typically have trained bodies, are disciplined, self-motivated and are probably used to pushing themselves beyond their limits. And sure, these things show up on the yoga mat as well, but how does yoga (a non-performance based sport) appeal to an athlete’s competitive nature? I believe one answer is ‘focus’.
One thing that is important to translate and remind athletes of is the yogi’s ‘internal focus’. Instead of focusing or comparing our selves to others, it is important that we focus on our self. Because athletes are so used to being competitive with others and themselves, a reminder to internally focus is key and to not overly compete with our selves either.
Another area of focus is to ‘focus on the present’ and not a future goal. Athletes are used to visualizing and thinking about the ‘end’ achievement, which isn’t a horrible thing, but yoga is the practice of ‘now’. Remind athletes to bring focus back to the present breath and to be in the moment versus crossing the finish line.
Yoga can help athletes to connect to their bodies on a deeper level. Instead of living in a win-lose frame of mind, the athlete can integrate Zen-ness with their athletic-ness.