Beth Shaw is the President of YogaFit, the world’s largest yoga training school. Her third book, YogaLean, will be released this fall, and offers a holistic approach to eating healthy, losing weight, and keeping it off.
I have a lot of friends who play tennis, and I actually helped them improve their game by introducing them to yoga. Yoga is beneficial because tennis players tend to favor one side over another, which causes muscular imbalances that can lead to constant injury. By practicing yoga, players can build muscular symmetry while also improving their balance.
And if you are anything like me, then you need a little bit of extra patience to get through an entire round of tennis. I am not necessarily the best tennis player on the court, so playing a match can sometimes become a game of just trying to connect my racket with the ball. Yoga can help players calm their nerves, so instead of focusing on their last mistake, they have a clear mind and can focus on their next move.
Here are some yoga poses that will certainly help you relieve your body and mind after—or even during—a tennis match:
1) Cow Pose – opens muscles around the back and midsection
From hands and knees, CAT—create a C shape with the spine bringing the heart center toward the tailbone, round your mid-back toward the sky. Moving into COW, create that C shape in the other direction. Pull the heat center away from the tailbone back, lifting the crown of the head to the sky. Stack shoulders over wrists, hips over knees.
Hold the pose in each direction, for five deep breaths.
2) Camel Pose – strengthens glutes and lower back
Move slowly, feeling your way. From a kneeling position, place your hands or fists on the bony points alongside your spine. Firm your glutes. Push your hips forward and lift your chest to the sky.
Lift out of your lower back, drawing your elbows back to expand your chest. Look up toward the sky, without dropping your head back.
Getting out of the pose: come into child’s pose. Rest.
3) Twisting Triangle Pose – balances backhand and forehand sides
Start in Chair pose with the feet and knees together. Lengthen your spine and place hands in prayer position over your heart. Twist from the waist, placing your elbow on the outside of the opposite thigh.
Engage your core to support your low back. Inhale, lengthen. Exhale, twist. Keep your knees together as you release deeper into rotation.
4) Warrior II – strengthens core muscles, stretches legs
Standing in Mountain Pose, put your left foot back three or four feet. Keep your heels aligned as you open your hips and shoulders to the long edge of your mat. Lower your arms parallel to the floor, reaching out in opposite directions through the fingers. Keep your front knee bent and hips level. Look over your front hand.
Lift your upper body and reach through your fingers in opposite directions. Sink through your lower body, keeping your knee over your ankle. Engage abs and relax your shoulders back and down.
5) Tree Pose – cultivates balance
Balance on one leg. Bring the opposite foot onto your standing ankle, calf or inner thigh, avoiding the knee. Bring your hands into the prayer position. Or raise your arms overhead and look up.
Lift up through the crown of your head while firmly rooting through the standing foot. Contract your abs and level your hips. Switch sides. Finding a focal point helps.
Try these poses after you play a match or even between sets. I guarantee that you will see some tangible benefits in no time!