From Wimbledon to Bikram

Monday 7 July, 2008

It's well known that yoga is one of the best cross-training activities for a host of high-impact sports - running, tennis, squash - that can challenge the bodies joints and lead to injury.

Fresh from his Wimbledon quarter-final defeat to Rafael Nadal, tennis player Andy Murray is the latest high profile sportsperson to sing yoga's praises - apparently Bikram has become integral to his training routine.

He credits the so-called 'hot' yoga - a set sequence of asanas practised in a room heated to temperatures of over 40 degrees celcius - with improving his mental focus and physical endurance.

Amateur golfer Steven Rennie is also a recent yoga convert: 'It pushes you mentally and physically, and different poses are perfect for the muscles I used in the golf swing', he told the BBC.

Along with tennis and golf (which especially benefits from yoga's emphasis on maintaining focus), runners stand to benefit from a regular yoga practice.

During the course of a mile-long run, a runner's foot will strike the ground around 1,000 times - and the force of impact on each foot is up to four times your weight.

No surprise, then, that common injuries among runners include bad backs, tight hamstrings, sore feet and painful knees.

A regular yoga practice won't safeguard professional and amateur athletes from injury. But it will lessen the risk by strengething and lengthening all the instrinsic muscle groups, keeping the joints supple and bringing you more in tune with your breath and natural capabilities.

Perhaps Bikram will help Andy Murray work miracles at next year's Wimbledon championships. Here's hoping.


Lucia Cockcroft, editor




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