Over the past few years, sports tech researchers have been investigating the benefits of meditation and yoga for baseball players.
Yoga and meditation are taking over the sports world right now. Yesterday, football player Erling Haaland celebrated a goal by meditating, and last year there was the Tom Brady was seen doing yoga on the sideline. Now, it’s the turn of baseball.
Baseball players are getting into yoga and meditation to reduce injuries, improve performance, and manage the stress of being a famous baseball player.
The latest research shows that there are indeed big benefits of meditation and yoga for baseball players. Yoga improves muscle coordination for performance enhancements, while also decreasing the risk of injury and improving recovery rates. Meditation, meanwhile, offers a way for baseball players to relax their minds in order to deal with the stress, and increases reaction times and focus. Because of these benefits, MLB teams are starting to teach players both yoga and meditation.
We’re now seeing an age where yoga and meditation are taken as serious parts of an MLB player’s training. Speaking to SportsTechie, MLB stats coordinator Steph Armijo said, “When I first started knocking on doors and said I want to teach yoga [in MLB], that didn’t mean anything to them…You see players doing the typical yoga stretches, but nobody wanted to call it yoga and nobody wanted to ‘do yoga.” Soon enough, however, she was giving yoga lessons to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. The sports world was beginning to take yoga and meditation more seriously.
Yoga and meditation have been growing in the sports world thanks to significant research that proves the benefits of both practices [READ: Benefits Of Different Types Of Yoga].
Big Benefits of Yoga for Baseball Players
A recent study that highlighted the benefits of yoga for baseball players. Last summer, three experts in sports research [Armijo, Moturs Global, and KinectPro] researched the effects of yoga on baseball players . MLB pitchers were given 60-minute classes in vinyasa yoga (a form of yoga that is focused on flow). The research measured recovery rates after a game. The tests included range of motion, jump force and shoulder strength. The pitchers who had taken part in the vinyasa classes showed significant improvements in various physical tests. The researchers state, “Yoga speeds the recovery process of several key fatigue markers and may offer more physical benefits than has previously been considered.”
Recovery, however, is not the only benefit of yoga that baseball players can expect. Indeed, yoga offers a complete mind-body solution that will benefits baseballers in numerous ways. For starters, yoga increases coordination, which will help to improve the accuracy of pitches. It also improves balance, which can be essential for difficult catches. It also improves body awareness. It makes us more aware of how we are moving the body. This improves muscular coordination, which will likely lead to reduced risk of injury, although research is required to substantiate this.
Best yoga poses for baseball players
Stretching in-field: When it comes to stretching in the field the best options are simple forward folds to help loosen the legs and hamstrings. To do this, hold your feet at should-width apart and bend over at the tips. Then touch the ground. Now lift your torso and back up.
In the Dugout: Because you’re spending a good deal of time sitting in the dug-out when the opposition is batting, it’s an opportune time to practice some yoga stretched. One of the best options for this is Sitting Pigeon Pose, which will loosen your hips. Lift your right legs and position your right foot on your left thigh. Now stretch forward at the waist. If you do this correctly you will feel the stretch down your right hip. Hold this for around fifteen seconds and then switch to the other side.
Another option in the dugout is to do a low lunge with the bat. To do this, bend your right knee so your thigh is parallel, and your shin is perpendicular with the ground. Reach your left leg out behind you and use the bat for support by placing your hands on it. This is an excellent pose for stretching the hips, which will help you to run when you get back to batting.
Recovering after the game: As well as helping during the game, yoga helps after baseball too. This is the time to use yoga for recovery. One of the best ways to do this is with Happy Baby. This is a yoga pose where you lie on the ground with your legs up, then grip your feet with your hands and rock from side to side (imagine a baby on their back). This massages the spine to help with recovery.
Meditation for Baseball Players
As well as yoga, there are big benefits of meditation for baseball players too. Meditation can help with everything from your ability on the baseball pitch to your ability to relax after a game.
Essentially, meditation helps baseball players have optimum mental performance during a game. Some particularly benefits of meditation for baseball players include the fact that meditating improves your reaction times (so you can hit the ball), increases awareness (so you’re more aware of where other players are and where the ball is heading) and helps to reduce the effect of stress and pressure that you may feel before or during the match.
There are many different types of meditation that baseball players might like to try. The easiest way to start, if you have not meditated before, is with some simple breathing meditations. Simply close your eyes and focus on your breathing for twenty minutes. You can do this before the game or when you’re in the dugout. This will help relax your mind and increases your awareness, which reduces the effects of stress and pressure and helps to make your you’re in the game mentally.
Another great meditation for baseball players is a Taoist technique called Zhan Zhuang (“Standing Like A Post”). Essentially, you stand in the position you would stand while batting (you can even hold the bat if you like) and meditate in this position. This trains your mind to be focused and calm in the stance you use when you’re batting. In effect, you are preconditioning yourself to be in the right mindset when you do step up to bat.
Methods like these help to ensure that you’re in peak condition for your next baseball game.
The fact that MLB is now taking yoga and meditation seriously as training tools shows just how beneficial they are. You can up your game and improve your health with a few simple meditations and yoga practices.
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