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Yoga for hockey players

11 April 2019 | By Maria Rizell Hegg

How can yoga help you as a hockey player? Systematic routines to release tension are simple, efficient and have been shown to make a great difference. In the practice we also take time to sense. The better we get at processing how the body, breath and mind responds, the better we can be in our performances. Learn more here! 


The possibilities with yoga are vast

My passion for the sport is how, where and why my development of yoga for hockey players started.

I have spent countless hours studying the sport, watching games, joining ice practices, talking to coaches and players to develop an understanding of the needs of a hockey player and how to best communicate the practice of yoga in the world of hockey.

 Still my time spent researching yoga for hockey probably don’t come close to the hours a hockey player clocks on the ice and in the gym. Add to that how a skater moves and the extreme movements the crease demands of the hockey goalie, it gets clear the needs a hockey player brings to yoga might differ from other individuals.


The possibilities with the practice of yoga are vast.
 As a dedicated athlete spends most of the time training to refine and develop the craft of the sport all complementary training has to be efficient time wise and have good transferability.

The time put in, not only studying and talking hockey, but even more doing actual yoga practice with players since 2013 has helped me to see what pieces might be missing in the development of the athlete. What components can yoga offer that aren't already utilized? 

When it comes to strength it's not a wild assumption that a hockey player is already doing great work.
 What yoga can offer is to balance the body to increase that strength.

As our strength is greater than the sum of the muscles, it's relying on the body working as one wholesome unit.
 A common approach when something is too tight and bringing the body out of balance is to strengthen the antagonists. Using tension to bring balance into a body that already may be, naturally due to the hours of hard work, tense has in my experience not been the most successful approach when yoga is brought to the rink.

Yoga for greater union with the game
Systematic routines to release tension has become standard in the sessions I do with hockey players. I am pleased these routines will be available through Yogobe as they are in deed simple, efficient and have been shown to make a great difference. Some of them are part of longer sequences but can all be used to customize individual shorter practices. I know, I said it’s hockey specific still individual minds and bodies can’t be generalized. Especially not since we rarely feel the same every day. There can be injuries, wear and tear, mental, emotional and/or physical fatigue, pre season or end of the season. Therefore in my work with hockey players, even more importantly than looking at goals and ambitions, we take time to find out and address what’s going on at the moment. It can be getting ready for ice, dealing with fatigue and soreness or active mobility routines in which we emphasize a lot on fluid movement that will help lengthen muscles while loadbearing – accentuated eccentric training.

One of the greatest tools yoga have to offer is self awareness which almost is a “byproduct” when you work with your mind and body as the focal point. In the practice we take time to sense how the body, breath and mind responds. The better we get at processing that information and sensing what is bringing us into balance the better we can be in our performances.
 The word “yoga” means union. In terms of hockey-yoga that means working to make the player one balanced unit - body, mind and breath. The player can then be in greater union with the game.

Videos with yoga for hockey players

Further reading

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Maria Rizell Hegg

The fascination with ice hockey has led yoga teacher Maria Rizell Hegg to specialize in hockey yoga.

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