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Tokyo Olympics: Yoga and a new landscape for performance

In this blog we explore whether COVID has presented athletes with an extreme example of performance requirements and how athletes need to factor in yoga to support the unpredictable into their training.

Source: La Times

Over 11,238 athletes competed in Rio, but this summer we have seen a decline in the number of athletes at 11,091 ...and counting. Only days before the ceremony, and as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, we have seen athletes such as a Chilean taekwondo fighter and Dutch skateboarder already test positive for COVID-19. Unfortunately this means they have no choice but to drop out and will be unable to compete in this year’s Games. The implications this might have on the outcome of the Tokyo 2021 Olympics is unimaginable.

Not only could this impact on the results for the competition but it's important that we take a moment to consider the mental well-being of the athletes. It’s hard to comprehend what it's like for an athlete who has trained rigorously for the last four years - perhaps their whole life - only to have the opportunity of representing their country taken away at the very last moment and at such an integral point in their career. Sad times. As COVID-19 continues to challenge us in ways beyond our comprehension, let’s focus on the positives that might come out of this most extraordinary year.

An athlete has four years to train to compete in the Olympics with structured training plans and performance objectives to achieve. Rigorous training schedules, discipline, and focus has them keeping an eye on the goal and the coveted Olympic prize. As evidenced, the pandemic has presented so many uncertainties and during this time it is integral to come equipped to any performance with a tool kit ready to cope with a whole new layer of stress. Yoga can be this game-changing tool kit.

For over a decade the Institute of Yoga Sports Science® has provided athletes with new tools to help them achieve their goals by applying sports-specific yoga and performance breathing techniques to their training. We have trained people passionate about yoga and sport to provide the right yoga tool kit to the athletes by introducing our evidenced-based techniques to help athletes reduce the risk of injury and enhance performance, mindset and well-being. The beauty, the science and the subtlety of yoga has the power to provide a fundamental foundation for a game-changing performance.

‘The contribution to the yoga and athletic world that Hayley Winter and team at the Institute of Yoga Sports Science (YSS) have made over the last decade, has been a game changer for yoga teachers wanting to specialize and work with athletes, and a gamer changer for athletes that have applied the YSS methodology delivered by Yoga Sports Coaches’. - Leon Taylor, Olympic Silver Medalist, Author, Mentor, BBC Sports ‘Voice of Diving’ and Yoga teacher.

Source: Reuters

With the Olympic Games fully underway, we are already seeing the fallout from the additional layers of COVID stress, and examples of athletes having to make on-the-spot tough decisions to support their mental health and well-being.

This Olympic Games will go down in history as a Games like no other. One that has seen athletes tackle an element of unpredictability - a pandemic - that to-date has been an unknown quantity to factor into any athletic training. It has reminded us that athletes are human.

At the end of this Games many discussions, debates and evaluations will hopefully be conducted by athletes, coaches, and the International Olympic Committee. We hope the supportive and integral role that sports-specific yoga can play is a key part of those discussions across all sports for every human athlete. 🙏🏽


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