Teen Athletes – Do These Yoga Poses to Prevent Injury and Play Harder

Morgan Casavant
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Yoga for teen athletes (that’s you!) is especially important for learning how to breathe while challenging your body physically, to prevent injury, to gain strength, and to be more balanced in your sport of choice.
 
Did you know that yoga is more than just stretching? It can be one of the hardest workouts you’ve ever done. That’s right! I’ve seen grown men whimper and groan trying to work through some of these poses. Try holding any of these poses for longer than a minute and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
 
Ready for a challenge? Check out our Strengthen and Tone Yoga Program
 

Here are 10 yoga poses for teen athletes to strengthen, help prevent injury, and improve your performance

This sequence is designed to build upper body, core, and lower body strength. You’ll also move your body in different directions, promoting flexibility that will help prevent injury and keep you playing harder for longer.
 
There are tons of ways yoga can help prevent injury. Read 5 Ways to Avoid Injury During Yoga
 

1. Toe Crunch Pose

Yeah . . . this one is just as pleasant as it sounds. But! This pose is perfect for athletes because it reverses the damaging effects of the beating your feet take every day and every game.
 
toe-stand
 
Practice Toe Crunch Pose

  • Kneel on your mat or a yoga blanket to support your knees
  • Tuck your toes under (make sure your pinky toe is along for the ride!)
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths

 
Modifications

  • For less intensity, lean forward or place a yoga block between your heels before you tuck your toes
  • For more intensity, gently and slowly begin to lean back

 
 

2. Plank Pose

Plank pose will test your mental strength just about as much as your physical strength. Remember to breathe and stay calm, and you’ll be able to hold this pose way longer than you think.
 
plank-pose
 
Practice Plank Pose

  • Find the top of a push up
  • Stack your wrists directly under your shoulders
  • Stay on the balls of your feet, actively pressing energy out through your heels
  • Engage your core to find strength and protect your low back
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths

 
Modifications

  • For less intensity, drop your knees to the mat
  • For more intensity, try alternately hovering your feet off the mat

 
 

3. Low Plank Pose

Ready to strengthen your whole body with one pose? Low Plank Pose hits it all – arms, core, and legs. As I tell my students . . . if you’re not shaking, you’re not doing it right!
 
chaturanga
 
Practice Low Plank Pose

  • Find Plank Pose
  • Lower halfway down, keeping your arms at a 90 degree angle and close to your sides
  • Keep your core engaged to remain in one strong line from your head to your toes
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths

 
Modifications

  • For less intensity, drop your knees to your mat
  • For more intensity, hold for as long as you can. You know you’re ready to come down when you can no longer hold a strong and straight line

 
 

4. Upward-Facing Dog Pose

Athletes tend to spend a lot of time in forward motion – running, swinging, hitting, kicking. Upward-Facing Dog Pose stretches out that hunching forward while strengthening through your arms and core.
 
up-dog
 
Practice Upward-Facing Dog Pose

  • Lie face down with your palms under your shoulders and your elbows pointing up
  • Rest the tops of your feet on your mat
  • Press into your hands, extending the arms straight to roll your torso up
  • Engage your legs to lift your kneecaps off your mat
  • Roll your shoulders back and keep your gaze forward
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths

 
Modifications

  • For less intensity, keep your thighs on your mat and your elbows slightly bent
  • For more intensity, alternate between Upward-Facing Dog and Low Plank Pose for a challenging take on push-ups

 

 

5. Side Plank Pose

This side plank variation – also known as Rockstar Pose – is great for athletes because it’s a core strengthener and balance posture all in one.
 
side-plank
 
Practice Rockstar Pose

  • Find Plank Pose
  • Shift your weight to your right hand and foot, and stack the left side of your body over the right
  • Engage your core to lift your hips high
  • Lift your top leg
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 
Modifications

  • For less intensity, lower your bottom knee or skip lifting your top leg
  • For more intensity, add oblique crunches by mindfully lowering and lifting your hips

 
 

6. Low Lunge Twist

Twists work on flexibility through your spine to prevent injury from fast-jerk motions. The combination of a low lunge and twist is great for stretching through your hips and spine all at once.
 
low-lunge-twist
 
Practice Low Lunge Twist

  • Find an all-fours position in Tabletop Pose
  • Bring your right foot up between your hands, keeping your knee stacked over your ankle
  • Engage your core to lift your torso up and bring your hands to heart center
  • Twist towards your front knee, hooking your elbow to the outside of your leg
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 
Modifications

  • For less intensity, simply twist to look over your right shoulder instead of hooking your elbow
  • For more intensity, lift your back leg to a full lunge

 
 

7. High Lunge Pose

This pose builds strength in your quads and glutes, making it the perfect way to train for intense plyometrics. It also provides a deep stretch in your hip flexors.
 
crescent lunge
 
Practice High Lunge Pose

  • Find Plank Pose
  • Step your right foot between your hands, keeping your knee stacked over your ankle
  • With the heel of your back foot directly over your toes, lift your torso
  • Keep your back leg straight and strong, and sink your hips closer to your mat
  • Reach your arms up and allow your gaze to follow
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 
Modifications

  • For less intensity, drop your back knee
  • For more intensity, start to look and reach back to create a gentle backbend

 
 

8. Warrior 2 Pose

Athletes need some Warrior 2 Pose in their lives because it strengthens your legs, pushes you to a mental edge, and works on flexibility in your hips to help you move easier.
 
warrior-2
 
Practice Warrior 2 Pose

  • Find High Lunge Pose
  • Pivot your back heel down at a 45 degree angle (you should be able to draw an imaginary line that connects the heel of your front foot with the arch of your back foot)
  • Open your hips to square off with the long edge of your mat
  • Lunge into your front knee, keeping your knee stacked directly over your ankle
  • Keep your back leg strong and straight
  • Reach your arms out like a “T”
  • Gaze over your front fingers
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 
Modifications

  • For less intensity, keep your hands on your hips or lessen the depth of your lunge
  • For more intensity, sink into your lunge until your bent leg reaches a 90 degree angle and hold for longer

 
 

9. Standing Figure Four Pose

Ah, balance. Balance postures can be tricky because they require focus, core strength, and a sense of unmessablewithness. Standing Figure Four Pose offers a hip opening stretch as well as a balance challenge.
 
standing-figure-four
 
Practice Standing Figure Four Pose

  • Find Mountain Pose, standing tall and proud
  • Bring your right ankle over your left knee, creating a “4” shape
  • Send your hips back as you sit lower into your imaginary chair
  • Bring your hands to heart center
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 
Modifications

  • For less intensity, don’t sit so low in your imaginary chair
  • For more intensity, fold over and reach your fingertips to the earth

 
 

10. Tree Pose

Tree pose can also be incredibly humbling. This balance posture is fantastic for helping to prevent injury because every time you wobble and wiggle, you’re building strength and flexibility in your ankles.
 
tree-pose
 
Practice Tree Pose

  • Find Mountain Pose, standing tall and proud
  • Bring your right foot against the inside of your left ankle, shin, or thigh, but not against your knee
  • Engage your core to energetically press your right knee out, and square your hips
  • Bring your hands to heart center
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 
Modifications

  • For less intensity, keep your foot balancing at your ankle
  • For more intensity, reach up or maybe even look up

 

Now, go play harder, faster, and stronger!

So, can yoga be a little more difficult than you expected? Athletes like yourself are already capable of amazing things, and practicing this yoga sequence will make you even stronger. As you master these 10 poses, start to hold each one for longer to keep the intensity up!
 
And – as we close every yoga sesh – Namaste.
 

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Morgan Casavant

Morgan is a graphic designer and yoga instructor committed to inspiring compassion, balance, and centeredness - on and off the mat. She loves minimalism, the zero waste movement, and all the things working to protect the environment.

morgancasavant.co

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