The practice of yoga is as old as the hills but it’s only recently that the ancient art form’s links to the vegetarian lifestyle have been explored.

Ask a Yogi: What’s the Link Between Yoga and Vegetarianism? | The Modern Yogi: The fact that you are reading this means you are on the path to a more fulfilling life. You probably already know that yoga and vegetarianism are two very different things, but even if this is not the case, you are likely to find a lot of similarities between the two.

The practice of yoga has been around for over 5000 years, and today there are thousands of varieties of yoga. These range from simple slow-moving vinyasa classes to high-intensity power yoga, Ashtanga, and Bikram. What do all these yoga types have in common? They use the same ancient Sanskrit word—yoga—to describe their practices that translates to “union”. By using this one word, these yoga instructors are referring to the goal of yoga, the union of mind and body, which leads to the ultimate health and happiness. Yoga has many uses, including increasing physical strength and flexibility, improving mental focus, and increasing emotional stability.

Soccer involves a lot of running and sprinting during training and matches. It is very close to yang, and players benefit from regular strength training and conditioning, especially for the leg muscles.

The practice of yoga can focus on preventing injury, developing flexibility, and the yin side of life that provides space and a place of rest. Yoga exercises for soccer players focus on improving flexibility in the legs, hips and joints – especially the hips and hamstrings, where stiffness is often experienced.

Here are five helpful yoga poses for soccer players:

1. Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Dog

The downward facing dog pose stretches the hamstrings and calves, as well as the shoulders. It also calms the nervous system.

Get down on all fours first. Place your hands on the ground, pull your toes under you and stand up in downward facing dog position. Start with knees bent, back straight and long, tailbone pointing to the ceiling. Slowly extend one leg back and bring the heel closer to the ground.

Pull the shoulder blades towards the spine and try to lower them actively, turning the arms outwards. Hold this position for 5 breaths.

2. Virabhadrasana I or warrior I

Warrior Pose 1 opens and stretches the groin and abdomen while strengthening the legs. To do this, starting in Tadasana, bring the left leg back and slightly turn it outward.

Inhale, lift your arms up and, on the exhale, bend your right leg, keeping your knee above your right ankle. Keep your palms together if that is comfortable for your shoulders, otherwise keep your hands shoulder width apart, palms facing each other. Hold this position for 5 breaths.

3. Ardha Hanumanasana or Semi-frontal Slit Pose
credit: Julia Lee

The half-lunge position is ideal for opening up the hamstrings and releasing the tension that running on a football field can cause. To do this, first get on all fours, then take one leg between your hands and do a lunge.

Raise the back hip above the knee, extend the front leg with the heel on the ground and the toes pointing up. Place a pillow under the back of your knee if you need softer support.

Try to maintain the length of the spine and extend the chest forward towards the front leg. Your hands can rest on the floor or on blocks to give you more room. Hold this position for 5 to 10 long, even breaths.

4. Pigeon Pose
Credit : Christine McGee.

The dove pose is a deep hip opening that stretches the hip rotators as well as the quadriceps and hip flexors. As a bonus, it also relieves tension and stress.

Get down on all fours and push your right knee between your palms. When your knee is straight, move your right ankle closer to your thigh. Center yourself so your weight is even.

You can keep yourself upright by placing your fingertips on the ground and stretching your upper body. You can also lower yourself into the carrier pigeon pose by supporting your upper body with your elbows or by lowering yourself completely to the ground. Place a blanket or block under your right hip if you need support to keep your hip straight. Continue for 6 to 8 long, even breaths.

5. Upavishtha Konasana or seated forward bend
credit: Julia Lee

This pose is ideal for creating space in the groin and legs while strengthening the spine. To do this, start with the Dandasana pose, spread your legs wide. If you notice that your lower back is bent, put a block under your hips.

You want to create space and length between your pubic bone and your navel. Place your hands behind your back, fingers pointing forward, and lift your sternum. If you sit up straight, you can already get a good groin stretch to stay upright.

If not, loop from the hips and slowly bring your arms forward. As soon as you notice that you are bending at the waist, stop the movement and keep your spine straight. Stay in this position for 1 to 3 minutes.

Yoga can improve concentration and create a state of relaxation where the player is open and clearly living in the moment. Tuning in to the breath and using it to relax and calm the body is a great benefit that the practice of yoga can offer players on and off the field.The ancient practice of yoga is about finding a balance of mind, body, and spirit. It’s a way of connecting with your inner being and learning to use this connection for self-improvement and well-being. Yoga focuses on strengthening the body and developing the mind. As a result, those who practice yoga tend to be healthier and more relaxed. Yoga also helps people to learn how to live in the moment and to be in tune with their bodies.. Read more about what is a yogi and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Yogis have to be vegetarian?

No, not necessarily. There are many different types of yogis and they all have their own dietary requirements.

Are yogis vegetarian or vegan?

Some yogis are vegetarian or vegan.

Why does Hinduism promote vegetarianism?

Hinduism promotes vegetarianism because it is a part of the Hindu belief that all life is sacred.

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