Strength of Center Fitness - The fusion of yoga and pilates.
Yoga & Sports. No matter what type of sports or exercise you are into, you can improve your ability and decrease your chances of injury by simply incorporating yoga into your routine.
Stretches for the legs and back are important.  Longer muscles work much more efficiently than tight, short ones.  Strengthening your core muscles (abs and back) can help to reduce the possibility of injury.  Yoga also helps you maintain better posture, core stabilization and proper breath pattern.
Whether you cycle, run, weight lift, kickbox or box, ski or snowboard, play golf, tennis, baseball, volleyball or basketball...the following postures can benefit you. Forward Fold, Butterfly, Dancer's Pose, Plank, Crunches, Bicycle, Downward Facing Dog, Bridge and Spinal Balance. Let's focus on the lower body and the first three postures.  Hold each posture for 8-10 breaths. 
Standing Forward Fold. Stretches hamstrings and back. Place your feet hip width apart and reach your arms overhead.  Extend arms out to sides and then down by your feet, folding upper body toward the ground.  Keep your knees slightly bent to protect your lower back.  Grab your elbows if you like.  Lift the tail bone.  Relax your head and neck (shake out your head; sigh).  Breathe into the lower back and hamstrings.  Tighten your abs. 
Seated Forward Fold. Stretches hamstrings and back. Only perform this posture after the body is warmed up.  From a seated position, extend your legs and flex your feet.  Lift your arms, hinge at the hips at fall forward.  Let your hands rest on your legs, knees, ankles, feet or the floor.  Relax your shoulders.
Butterfly. Stretches hips, lower back and groin. Only perform this posture after the body is warm.  From a seated position, lift your chest and bring the soles of the feet together.  Open your knees to the sides, drawing them toward the floor.  Fold forward, holding on to your ankles.  If you can, use your elbows to gently press the knees open.
Dancer's Pose. Stretches fronts of legs, strengthens back and supporting leg, improves balance. Stand with feet hip width apart.  Bend left leg and reach for your foot or ankle.  Pull the left knee down and toward right knee.  Keep the knee drawn in tight to the body.  Extend right arm up.  Keep hips in alignment and abs tight.  Slowly hip hinge forward, without locking out your right knee.  Take left leg back behind you, drawing chest toward the ground.  Separate your left calf and hamstring by pulling left calf away from the body.  Repeat to other side.
Plank Pose. Strengthens arms, chest, shoulders and abs. From a kneeling position, extend legs back, curling your toes under and pushing through your heels...make sure that your shoulders are over your hands.  Keep your back straight (do not fall into it) and your midsection if imaginary hands were supporting you at your mid-section.  Hips may be slightly elevated.  You make choose to do this on your elbows.
Crunches and Bicycle. Strengthens your core. Lie on your back, with bent knees and feet flat to floor.  With hands behind your head and elbows out, lift your shoulders off the floor and draw the chin toward the sky, release.  Make sure that you leave a nice distance between your chin and chest and do not strain the neck. Perform 20 - 50 reps. THEN extend your left leg out about 45 degrees and line your right toes up with your left knee.  Lift shoulders off the floor and cross the left shoulder toward the right knee. Then switch to other side to complete on rep.  Aim for 25 reps.
Downward Facing Dog. Strengthens upper body and stretches shoulders and hamstrings. This one is a favorite of mine! Place your palms flat on the floor, shoulder width apart, fingers fanned out.  Step back and press your heels toward the floor.  Lift your tail bone to the sky.  Push your palms forward and your heels back.  Let your chest, head and neck sink toward the floor.  Breathe into your back and imagine that someone is supporting you at your hips.  The knees do not have to be straight...the heels do not have to press to the ground. BUT try to create a long spine AND take the bend out of your wrists so that you create a long line from fingertips to tail bone.
Bridge Pose. Strengthens glutes, hamstrings & calves and stretches abs & chest. Lie on your back. Bring the soles of your feet to the floor, knees up, hip-width apart.  Lift your hips high and push your heels into the ground.  Arms are at your sides with palms on floor.
Spinal Balance. Strengthens back muscles. From hands and knees, extend one arm and the opposite leg parallel to the floor.  Pull energy from the center of the body.  Keep a straight line (don't drop or lift your head) and keep your abdominal muscles contracted.  Lengthen on your exhalation as if your were being pulled in two directions.  Switch sides.
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