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Ashtanga yoga is often called “athlete's yoga” because it has become popular as a cross-training technique for athletes who are competitive in a variety of sports from running to baseball. The steady motion of an ashtanga class builds strength as well as flexibility, and even the very fit will feel like they have had a workout. After a few weeks of ashtanga yoga as little as once a week, you will notice more mobility in your hips, back, legs, and shoulders when you are running, golfing, biking, or engaging your other favorite sports.
Ashtanga classes are less likely to use props or to focus on fine-tuning everyone's alignment in every pose. The idea of ashtanga is to flow from one pose to the next and do the best you can in each posture for the time that you are in it. With that thought in mind, commit to full participation in ashtanga yoga to get the maximum benefit. When you stand tall, really plant your feet, fully extend your body when you reach forward, and pay attention to your instructor's verbal guidance to make your own adjustments as you go through the series of poses.
If you are seeking sport-specific ashtanga yoga, ask around; some running clubs, cycling clubs, or golf clubs offers ashtanga-style classes that cater to the needs of those specific sports. For example, a “yoga for runners” class will focus on opening the hips, which are chronically tight in dedicated runners.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|