Yoga is often looked down upon by people who do neither practice it nor understand it, but the truth is that it has a huge number of benefits for people from all different walks of life. For example, yoga can be used to treat mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, and many successful business people swear by yoga and/or meditation. Sports people use yoga, too. British soccer teams Manchester United and Manchester City use yoga to stay fit and flexible, since meditation and reflection can help calm the mind for slower, more strategic sports, like snooker, darts, and bowling. So, yoga and cheerleading are an obvious combination! Practicing meditation and yoga is hugely beneficial for cheerleaders because it helps develop flexibility and stamina, while simultaneously encouraging a sense of focus and discipline. And, yoga is on the rise, too! The number of American yoga practitioners increased by 29% from 2008 to 2012, with over 20 million people embracing it. $27 billion is spent every year in the United States alone on yoga products. And, it’s increasingly popular amongst people of all ages and demographics‚ from older office workers to promising young cheerleaders. Here are just a few reasons why yoga and cheerleading work so well together. 1. Natural flexibility. Yoga encourages extra flexibility without forcing your body to act unnaturally. Yoga doesn’t develop the body through brute force; it encourages muscle mass and flexibility to develop slowly over time. This also reduces the likelihood of sustaining an injury during training. 2. Enhanced concentration. Unlike many Western disciplines, yoga comes with its own philosophy and way of life, which can help to sharpen the mind and reduce distractions. In fact, this increase in concentration applies to many different areas of life‚ from the schoolyard to the workplace, and beyond! Dan Latch of Aussiewritings.com believes that yoga can even have its place in the classroom. He says that, “yoga helps people to focus on essays and revision, and to prepare the mind for stressful examination halls, ” and this extra focus carries over to cheerleading, too. After all, the sport causes over half of all “catastrophic ” injuries to female athletes, and a little extra focus could make the difference between a stunning performance and a career-ending injury. 3. Faster recovery time. Yoga isn’t just for when you’re at full fitness. In fact, it can help you to gently recover from injuries and muscle damage, or get back into shape after taking some time out. It is particularly useful when recovering from injuries that were caused by stretching or stunting, and it can also help to improve your posture‚ which is always a plus for cheerleaders! 4. Training of new muscle groups. One of the biggest advantages of yoga is that the poses activate muscle groups that are dormant during other exercises. Asanas push practitioners to develop a healthy balance throughout the body by using a more rounded, holistic approach to physical fitness. 5. Inspiration through acro-yoga. Acro-yoga is one of the more interesting spinoffs of traditional yoga: combining yoga with acrobatics to create something that resembles an entirely new sport. It’s more vigorous than traditional yoga, but many of the poses are similar to cheer formations and it can be a great way to get fit with a partner, boosting collaboration and communication between cheerleaders. There’s always been plenty of scope for sportspeople to use yoga to further develop themselves, and cheerleaders are in a particularly good place to benefit from the mental and physical benefits that yoga has to offer. After all, cheerleading is a fast-paced sport that calls for high levels of physical fitness, focus, teamwork, and coordination‚ the four areas that practicing yoga can help to improve! Ultimately, yoga shouldn’t become a part of your training routine; it should become a part of your daily life. It’s not about becoming better than the competition. It’s about becoming the best version of yourself that you can be. Good luck. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ About the Author: Olivia is a journalist who is always ready to experience new things, and share this experience with others. She is passionate about art and writing. Therefore, she usually spends time writing new articles or traveling around the world. Follow Olivia on Facebook and Twitter.