With the Rio Olympics 2016 upon us, athletes from 206 countries are training hard to compete in over 300 sporting events. It may come as a surprise to many that some of these incredible female Olympians use yoga as part of their training and preparation. So let’s take a look at 5 Top Female Athletes who love including yoga in their training!
1. Jessica Ennis-Hill
Let’s start with Great Britain’s very own reigning Olympic champion and former World and European champion Heptathlete, Jessica Ennis –Hill. Jessica attended a yoga class for 2 years, with yoga teacher Nicola Harpin, prior to her pregnancy and then switched to pre-natal yoga classes to keep her fit and healthy during pregnancy.
In an interview Jessica said “Yoga has been really good for me training wise. It helps keep some level of fitness up through my pregnancy as well as in the run up to major championships.” Jessica spoke out about her love of yoga during her pregnancy in 2014 and stated that yoga kept her in shape during her pregnancy.
2. Evelyn Stevens
The American road cyclist with Olympic and World Championship experience behind her keeps up regular yoga practice. The two-time national time trial champion has also stated that yoga gives her mental strength as well as physical strength on the road.
Evelyn likes to practice power yoga as she has been quoted saying that she enjoys the core strength and balance it gives her, which are both important areas in cycling. When travelling she has been known to keep up her practice by listening to yoga podcasts.
3. Rebecca Soni
A former Olympian for the U.S. swim team and winner of a total of 22 medals in major international competitions. She is now a mentor to athletes and keeps up regular yoga and meditation practice as part of her daily routine.
Rebecca has openly talked about how important daily meditation is for her and that a mind-body connection is integral for any athlete. She began her yoga practice as a way of improving her flexibility and recovering from her intense training schedules, getting hooked from then on.
4. Jamie Anderson
A professional snowboarder winning gold at the 2014 winter Olympics in Russia and an enthusiastic yoga Instagrammer. Jamie’s favourite pose is the Handstand and says that meditation is also a very important part of her life. Jamie has credited a lot of her success to a rigorous yoga program.
In an interview with Yoga Journal she said “Yoga has helped me with everything in my life. Especially my snowboarding; between the strength, flexibility, balance and meditation aspects of yoga, it has helped me in so many other ways.”
5. Ariana Kukors
A former Olympic champion and World record holder for the 200 individual medley, claiming that her yoga practice has improved her body awareness, which in turn improves her swimming ability.
Ariana has openly expressed her enthusiasm for Vinyasa hot yoga, stating that she enjoys achieving power through flow and movement but also loves a good sweat!
With athletes from all fields taking up a form of yoga practice, it’s a sure sign that the benefits of yoga go far beyond that of merely being relaxing. Using yoga to improve their strength, flexibility balance and perceptional awareness, it’s certainly proof that yoga benefits those who demand peak performance. No matter what level you’re at, you’re sure to experience a sense of wellness as scientific evidence unfolds that it’s an incredible fitness and healing practice for mind, body and soul.