Yoga might not fit into traditional fitness plans incorporated with cheer
training. Sure, you need cardio and core strengthening conditioning sessions to
get you into top physical condition for the cheer season, but low-intensity
workouts bring their own benefits to the fitness table, too! To truly go full
out, you have to maintain a well-rounded level of fitness that includes strength
training, consistent cardio, endurance training, and yes, even meditation!
That’s where activities like yoga come in–to help cheerleaders achieve that
balance (pun intended). There are many wellness benefits to yoga, but there are
some things about it that apply to cheerleaders more than to other athletes.
1. Yoga increases flexibility. This
is a given–yoga helps you bend. But, yoga poses aren’t the normal stretches
that an athlete does before and after they workout. Stretches in yoga activate
muscle groups that lay dormant in other exercises as you twist your body in
unconventional ways. This is great for cheerleaders, since stunting requires
most of the muscles in your body! Yoga covers all of your major and minor
muscle groups, and with persistent yoga sessions, you will not only get these
muscles used to being activated, but also increase the flexibility of your
muscles as you do. It’s a win-win!
2. Yoga heightens
mental acuity. As you train, one thing that most cheerleaders overlook is
their mental wellness. Cheerleading is fun, fierce, and full of challenges,
which can sometimes lead to becoming overstressed and overworked. Yoga, and
other alternative workouts, help to decompress participants through meditative
breathing, focus, and channeling your energy away from mental stressors.
Cheerleaders lead very active lives–with calendars lined with cheer, school,
and social engagements–so taking time out to breathe and reflect does more good
than you think! Plus, with a clear mind, cheerleaders can focus better when it
counts! Breaking down tough choreography becomes easier with less mental
clutter, you sleep better at night, and you’re able to overcome obstacles you
never thought possible–all just by taking the time to condition your mind.
3. Yoga protects you from injury.
Say, what?!? It’s true! Injuries happen for more reasons, but many are from
strains and muscle tears. In cheerleading, concussions are the number one
injury, fact, and there’s not much you can do about that besides try to cheer
safely. But, yoga does help protect you from other cheer injuries! Yoga
stretches not only your muscles, but the ligaments that hold your muscles
together; since they are regularly getting activated, your ligaments don’t tear
4. Yoga gives you
more energy. That’s right–ditch the energy drinks and venti Starbucks
frappachinos (not the healthiest choice anyway)! Through the muscle activation
and the mental meditation, you walk out of yoga feeling refreshed. It’s why
people go! Because of the downtime you’ve taken to revitalize your mental and physical health, you have (without knowing) fueled yourself with energy
for other activities. Yoga is like taking a vacation for your soul–go away for
an hour and come back to face the rest of your day!
How else does yoga help
cheerleaders? How has yoga made an impact in your cheer career? Tell us your
story in the comments!