Yoga, mental strength and surviving the longest tennis match ever!
So a few days ago at the Australian Open, Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznestova played for a record breaking four hours and 44 minutes, the longest tennis match in history for women at a Grand Slam.
Several months earlier in June, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played the longest tennis match of all time at Wimbledon – a game that lasted a total 11 hours and five minutes.
How do they do it? How can someone perform at their very best when they are under such tremendous pressure? How could you regain your composure and concentration when playing what would be the longest tennis match ever and when a championship is at stake?
There’s a factor in all of this that plays a significant role. It’s called mental strength and all the tennis pros swear by it.
Everyone has their own tips and interpretations when it comes to mental strength and surprise, surprise we’re able to work a yoga angle into this! But firstly, let’s think about what mental strength involves. If you’re under intense pressure to perform at your very best you’ll need complete concentration. One false move, one distracting thought and it could throw you off completely. Building mental strength is about building endurance. Building the stamina that will keep you going no matter the odds. It’s also about learning to train the mind so it can cope under this pressure and remain focused and centred.
I love yoga’s warrior series because in a sense they teach all of this. The warrior poses stimulate the manipura chakra located behind the mid spine. This chakra is associated with our inner fire and dynamism. The warrior pose is all about strengthening and energising. It’s about creating a strong foundation, lengthening the spine and allowing for the free flow of energy throughout the body. Practising these postures can help you cultivate the energy you need to reach your goals. It gives you the confidence to confront challenges and helps develop qualities of courage and determination.
Virabhadrasana I (Warrior i)
Stand in tadasana with the feet together at the front of your mat. Step the left foot back so it is on a slight angle with the mat. Bend the right knee so it directly comes over the right ankle. The knee can point slightly out towards the baby toe. Extend and raise your hands over your head and stretch up. Be sure to keep the upper body and hips centred.
Virabhadrasana ii (warrior ii) Stand with your feet parallel to each other and with significant distance between them. Slightly rotate the left foot in so it is on a slight angle. Move the right foot so the toes point straight forward. . Extend your arms out with the palms facing down. Inhale, and on an exhale, bend the right knee over the right ankle. Keep the upper body centred and the spine, straight. Keep your feet grounded and stretch from the fingers. Your weight should be evenly dispersed.
Virabhadrasana iii (warrior iii) Stand in tadasana in the centre of your mat. Step forward with the right foot and slightly bend the knee. Extend both hands up. Liftthe left heel off the mat. Press down on the ball of the left foot and slowly transfer your weight onto the right leg. The final position should look like a letter ‘T’. Your left foot and both arms should form a straight line and your balancing leg should form a solid foundation.
What’s your interpretation on mental strength? What are your tips for improving mental strength?
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