My relationship with yoga is very one-sided. Though I do not consider it in any way lesser, I ignore it most of the year when considering my options for exercise, choosing primarily running or skiing instead.
Then something crops up. A switch from skiing back to running in the spring makes my hips and IT bands cranky, causing pain in my knee. A couple ankle rolls on a trail run fire up my peroneal tendon. My elbow isn’t pleased about double pole intervals on pavement.
As if I hadn’t cast it aside, yoga welcomes me back with open arms, helping me improve body awareness and stability, and increase overall mobility and structural resilience.
Though local studios offer a variety of excellent classes, I consistently turn to an online resource: Athletes for Yoga. Started in 2010 by Erin Taylor, former collegiate basketball player turned runner, Athletes for Yoga (A4Y) is a unique resource designed to complement and support an active lifestyle or serious training.
Her message is this: “Don’t do yoga. Use yoga — right now, where you are, to get where you want to be.”
Taylor has a true talent for teaching how to unlock tight muscle groups, access and recruit the correct muscle groups, and develop a better understanding of the relationship between muscle groups in the body. For me, A4Y has been an essential tool to feel, identify, and understand muscle imbalances and sources of injury,
The robust A4Y video series, which can be viewed on a cell phone, tablet, or computer, includes routines designed for pre and post workout, strength and balance training, and collections specific to triathlon, running, cycling, pregnancy, and more. There are also resources to quickly relieve tightness in the hip flexors, neck, and shoulders from too much computer time during the COVID-induced work from home grind. Your body will thank you on your aprés workout.
“Athletes for Yoga is home to the only athlete-led, on-demand yoga video platform and app, coach training, and global community of athletes using yoga to achieve their goals. We are here to help you use yoga, for real. That means putting yoga into the context of your sport and goals with functional strength, strategic injury prevention, and optimized recovery to make you a more balanced, resilient, and powerful athlete.”
While longer videos are also available, most of the resources fall between 10-20 minutes, allowing them to fit comfortably into your day.
The A4Y resources I use most frequently include the “5-minute resets”. These videos target specific areas such as hips, hamstrings, or shoulders, quickly yet effectively increasing circulation and range of motion to improve recovery and mobility. Given their length, it doesn’t feel daunting to tack one on at the end of a run, ski, or gym session. There is also a pre-run warmup routine of equal length to activate the glutes and hamstrings, promoting healthy running mechanics.
When I have a bit more time, “Power Your Pushoff” (16 mins) is one of my go-to’s, which activates and strengthens the rear chain while mimicking the forward motion of running or skiing, adding power and stability to those movements. I also utilize “Booty Lock Mitigation” (19 mins) to loosen my hips after a workout, and “Standing Balance Flow” (10 mins) to improve body awareness for better glide on my skis.
“Full Body Core” and “Functional Core” are great strength training sessions that teach you to engage and develop inner core muscles, translating to improved strength and coordination in other activities.
If you’re looking to slow down, try the guided meditation series which includes specific practices to improve sleep, refocus, or visualize race performance.
For those averse to yoga, you may find A4Y challenges your presumptions. It is not “Yoga for Yogis”. You don’t need to wear Lululemon, drink golden milk lattes, or listen to Enya. The style is to the point and down to earth.
A4Y serves all active people, male or female, regardless of sport.
To exemplify that athletes of all caliber have something to learn form Taylor’s approach, take a look at the list of athletes and alumni of the A4Y team, which includes Ironman Champion Ted Treise, professional track athlete Alysia Montaño, professional basketball player Desmond Simmons, and 4x national rowing champion Michaela Copenhaver.
In acknowledgement of the number of people currently looking for opportunities to exercise from home, A4Y is offering 50% off the first month with the code “HOMESTUDIO”, after which a subscription costs $9.99/month or $99.99/year. Subscriptions can be cancelled at any time.