Big Leagues discover yoga for pitchers

New York Times Deep Breath as Pitchers Rethink Routines American football and basketball have already had lots of stories about athletes incorporating yoga and meditation into their training routines. This is the first one that I’ve seen about baseball, but Alan Jaeger, training specialist for formative pitchers has been working along these lines for more than a decade.

When they finish stretching, Jaeger puts them through a variety of excruciating yoga poses, with names like Dolphin, Pigeon and Warrior. In one pose, the pitchers make like ballet dancers, placing their right ankles over their left knees and raising their arms.

In theory, they are improving their balance, sharpening their concentration and learning to take deep breaths in the face of high anxiety.

“If you can calm yourself down in the middle of those poses, you can do it in the middle of the game,” said Errol Simonitsch, a pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. “That’s why, before every pitch, you’ll see me take a deep breath.”

Now this story will be picked up by all the local papers who will run articles about how the new pitching prospect has perfected his fastball while practicing a Warrior sequence and chanting Om at the release.

From the NYT pictures, it’s clear that the athletes need to discover jumbo-size yoga mats or buying bulk and cutting them to size. The “students” just spill over the edges of a 68″ or 72″ regular mat.