The ability to jump high gives you an athletic advantage in many different sports: basketball, track and field, volleyball, tennis -- you name it! National Collegiate Scouting Association-certified strength and conditioning expert Marc Dagenais recommends maximizing your vertical jump -- technically defined as your jump reach minus your standing reach -- by strengthening the power in your legs, particularly your calf and quad muscles. Lucky for you, yoga helps strengthen your leg muscles and maximize your vertical jump by using body weight and gravity as resistance while you work your muscles from a stationary pose.
Crescent lunge strengthens your back, shoulders and arms, while it builds powerful leg muscles and increases stamina. This deep lunge opens up and stretches the hip flexors while it works out the calves, quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings. Crescent Lunge is a heart-opening exercise that expands the torso, chest and range of motion in the shoulders. It challenges balance and coordination, two essentials for high jumping, and keeps you limber, fit and toned.
Strong legs translate to high jumps, and few yoga poses strengthen your legs as completely as the Warrior poses do. Warrior I pose strengthens your core abdominal muscles, which is important for balance and agility, and builds your quadriceps and hamstrings. It also works your feet and arms.
Warrior II builds upon Warrior I, and challenges your stamina the longer you hold the pose. It opens your hips and chest and builds your leg (particularly your quadriceps, hamstrings and inner thighs), back, arm and shoulder muscles.
Warrior III challenges your balance and flexibility, building stamina as it strengthens your legs, ankles and back. It heals spinal conditions by stretching the spine. Practice this Warrior series of postures three times a week and watch your high jump increase inch by inch.
Chair pose works both the upper and lower body. It strengthens the muscles needed for jumping, such as the hip flexor muscles, the quadriceps, the inner thigh muscles, the calf muscles and the gluteus muscles. Chair pose also works the ankles, increasing their range of motion and improving proprioception (or the awareness of a limb's position in space) in your feet.
Balance is tested, as it is with many yoga poses, but the Static Squat preps your jumping skills by working the back, legs, thighs and calves. It strengthens your ankles and shins and heals spinal problems, building a powerful lower back and increasing your range of motion so that you can jump higher and stronger.
Amy Lucas is a writer for the Underground Health Reporter and Gaiam websites, and for Bestcovery.com. She has written for business and personal websites and been published in educational publications, including Random House's "1,296 ACT Practice Questions" and in her own series of SAT books and DVDs, "Private Tutor SAT, Your Compete SAT Test Prep Course."