Yoga poses and routines tend to increase flexibility, balance and agility, so it often helps athletes prevent and recover from injuries. The slow, mostly mellow pace of yoga can help high-intensity athletes exercise or stretch without straining joints, muscles and tendons. For example, sequences such as the sun salutation provide a dynamic warm-up for runners and endurance athletes.
Yoga's breathing techniques can also help athletes, and while this may not directly prevent muscle damage or other forms of injury, it may boost performance. Athletes may also become more aware of their bodies while practicing yoga, gaining a better understanding of their body's limits or weak points.
Though the flexibility gained from yoga can help prevent certain sports injuries, yoga itself can cause certain injuries. Individuals who are interested in taking up a yoga practice, particularly those with existing injuries or health conditions, should first consult appropriate health care professionals to make sure they are not going to exacerbate their current condition or introduce new problems.
It is also important for beginners to attend the appropriate class for their experience level. As with any physical activity, it's always a good idea to listen to pain or other discomfort while practicing yoga.