The benefits of yoga for women soccer players are numerous and include increased speed, agility and flexibility. When choosing yoga poses that complement your soccer training, focus on poses that target the leg muscles specifically. In addition to leg-specific poses, practice several full-body poses that bring strength, balance and flexibility to entire the body.
Poses for the Thighs
Practice yoga poses that stretch the thigh muscles -- also known as the quadriceps. Strong, flexible quadriceps can help you run faster and get to the ball before your opponent does. Some yoga poses that stretch the quadriceps are hero pose, low lunge and chair pose. To perform chair pose, stand up straight with your legs and feet together. Bend your knees and sit back as if you were about to sit on an invisible chair. Extend your arms toward the sky, inner arms pressing close to your ears and palms facing each other. Roll your shoulders back and lift your chest.
Poses for the Hips
Tight hips can shorten your running stride and lead to injuries on the field. In order to bring more flexibility to your hips, perform yoga poses such as pigeon pose, extended side angle pose and triangle pose. To perform triangle pose, stand up tall at the top of your mat. Step back behind you 3 to 4 feet with your right foot and turn your right toes out slightly. Shift your torso and hips to the right, so the hips point toward the right side of your mat. Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height, positioning your left arm over the left leg and right arm over the right leg. Drop your left hand to the front of the left shin and extend the right arm toward the ceiling. Lower the left side of your waist toward your left thigh.
Poses for the Whole Body
Bring more flexibility to the entire body with full-body yoga stretches. Stretches like downward-facing dog, warrior I and warrior II are great poses to perform after a soccer practice or game. Stretching after exercise helps to decrease injury and delayed onset muscle soreness. To perform downward-facing dog, position yourself on all fours. Tuck your toes under and press your hips up and back until your body is in an inverted "V" shape. Extend your arms straight and press your palms into the mat, energetically lifting your shoulders. Align your head with your spine. Press your heels into the floor as you shift more of your weight toward the hips and feet. Draw your belly button in toward your spine.
Plyometric Jumping Poses
Plyometric exercises improve soccer players' explosive speed, power and agility. You can bring plyometric exercises to your yoga mat by jumping into and out of various yoga poses. In a flowing vinyasa-style yoga class, your teacher might instruct you to jump from downward-facing dog to the front of your mat in a forward fold. To jump safely in yoga class, bend your knees and look forward to your hands. As you jump, try to land as lightly as possible at the top of your mat.
Nicole Carlin is a registered yoga teacher. Her writing has been published in yoga and dance teacher training manuals for POP Fizz Academy. Carlin received a Masters of Arts in gender studies from Birkbeck University in London and a Bachelors of Arts in psychology from Temple University, Philadelphia.