Layering on school, homework and social life can create physically and emotionally exhausted teens. As exciting as it is for a team to have had a playoff or championship run, the ability to sustain the effort requires a mental and physical regrouping both on and off the field.
Yoga can play a critical role in rest and recovery. Like other components of team training, yoga should be periodized to meet the specific needs of the athletes at each phase of their season. This juncture between Fall and Winter sports is a time for gentle and restorative yoga. Muscles and mental focus have been worked out nearly daily for months during sport specific training and games. Now is the time for athletes to lay down on the mat and find release and recovery with a supportive yoga practice.
Taking time for a slow practice is as much about finding length in their muscles as it is about checking in with their bodies. Body awareness is an important skill to develop at this age. Some time on their mat can help them really check in with how their muscles and joints feel and help them learn to identify areas that are unilaterally or abnormally sore or painful. This pain could be an early indicator of future injury and learning how to identify and bring it to the attention of their parents and coaches could help prevent serious overuse injuries that limit or end playing time.
Now is the time to contact your local yoga studio and find or arrange a gentle yoga class for your teen athletes. They will thank you later!