Yoga Instructor: Working with Gymnasts

yoga trainingBy Faye Martins

Some yoga teachers have no desire to modify asanas, adjust students or help students with limited flexibility.  This type of yoga instructor doesn’t care about the unique differences within the skeletal body, the therapeutic aspects of yoga, anatomy, or joint capsules. He or she was sleeping during the anatomy segment of yoga teacher training.

Whether we think it’s right or not, some teachers only want to work with elite athletes, who are strong and flexible.  In this case, these teachers could instruct a room full of elite gymnasts, martial artists or dancers.  When you think about it, these are extremely competitive activities that hire yoga teachers for cross training classes.  Rather than discuss all three fields, let’s look at working with gymnasts.


Gymnastics is a sport requiring much discipline, strength, concentration and flexibility. Events within the sport typically include the vault, floor exercises, the balance beam, parallel bars, pommel horse, rings, trampolines and more. Hatha Yoga also involves many of the same elements as gymnastics: strength, flexibility, agility and balance. The difference between the two includes the spiritual and meditative practices associated with yoga and the more competitive nature of gymnastics. The most vigorous Hatha Yoga training is a slower-paced routine that incorporates the importance of breath with each movement.

Gymnasts can certainly benefit by adding yogic methodology to their training routines. Many athletes find that a yoga routine complements their regular workouts well. The gentle nature of yogic practices will provide a balance to the rigorous muscle workouts often performed by gymnasts. The stretches make sure that muscles remain long and agile instead of becoming tight and shortened from overuse. Yoga will also provide a number of other benefits for gymnasts.


Increased Agility

Gymnasts must be agile enough to perform their routines with fluidity and grace, but they also need to be strong enough to achieve and hold specific poses. There is a fine line, then between gaining and maintaining the necessary amount of strength while making sure muscles stay limber. Asana practice can provide the agility that a gymnast’s body needs.

Relief from Muscle Soreness

Rigorous training and daily workouts eventually take their toll on gymnasts. Yoga training can be a good way to cool down the muscles after a workout, stretch them and ensure that soreness will be minimal. The breathing associated with yoga postures will also aide in getting extra oxygen to the muscles which will help eliminate muscle fatigue, tension and soreness.


Improved Focus

Gymnastics requires a lot of concentration, stamina and focus. Competitions can be stressful events as gymnasts get one chance to perform as perfectly as possible. All they have worked for over the course of many months comes down to just one or two events. Yogic meditation and breathing techniques give gymnasts a valuable tool to use in these times of stress. Gymnasts can learn to visualize success just before the event and to breath out the negative energy and nervousness that occurs before performing.

Gymnasts will certainly benefit by using yoga as a tool to achieve the greatest possible success in any competition or practice session. In this field, the competitive teacher will surely be embraced by his or her students.

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