GAME SET YOGA
By Yogi Boss Leanne Marshal of Prior Yoga


If you have watched any game of tennis, there will be no doubt in your mind the power of the body and determination of the player's mind as they set about winning their game.

Although yoga is not about winning or losing, it does take also take focus and dedication to keep up a solid practice.

The many benefits of yoga complement the training that a tennis player goes through and can help to protect against injuries. Following are some of my favourite Asanas (positions) that are recommended for tennis players.

The table top position is a popular warm up, which you can get into by kneeling on your mat and bringing your hands to the mat so that your upper body is level. If you externally rotate your arms so that your wrists face outwards towards the front of the mat, this can help to strengthen your wrists. Also make sure throughout your practice you shake out your wrists and rotate your hands in both directions both to warm up your wrists and to release them from pressure.

From table-top start to elevate your hips and press back through your heels. Looking on sidewise you will look like an upside-down V. As you continue to warm up your body walk through your downward dog, lifting one heel then the other. Moving into elbow dog helps to relieve pressure from the wrists whilst still building strength in the shoulders, by moving your forearms to the floor and clasping your hands together to form a triangular shape.

Start to lift your left leg behind you, keeping the back of your pelvis, as flat as possible, using the momentum created from that position to step your right foot to the outside of your right hand. Keeping your right leg as straight as possible, lift the heel of the foot so that the position turns into a high lunge. Lift your arms above your head reaching above and beyond, palms facing each other. Repeat this sequence on the right-hand side.

Your arms can also assist the opening of the shoulder by opening-up the chest area more. This is achieved by crossing them diagonally across your back to come into what is known as 'Gomukhasana arms'. Lift first your the left arm, bending it at the elbow to bring the forearm down diagonally across your shoulder blades whilst bringing your right arm upwards so that the bent elbow is by your right waist and your right hand reaches upwards to clasp the left.

Before cooling down, perhaps a peak pose for your tennis player practice would include 'Wild thing' Starting off in Downward dog as described above, lift your right leg straight behind you, keeping the foot flexed and leading with the heel, going into Scissor dog. Bend your right leg and point your foot so that your leg rotates at the knee pointing to the left-hand side turning the position into Scorpion dog. Leading with toe, your right foot will eventually land on the floor and the end position will see you balancing on one arm and foot.

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