Tag Archives: sports

Yoga and football players! What about the desk jockeys?

In the wake of the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory with the “aid of yoga and meditation,” I unphased by the chatter on blogs and online media about this being a turning point for the acceptance of yoga into mainstream America:

NY Times Title for the Seahawks Is a Triumph for the Profile of Yoga
Men and athletes doing yoga is not new. Basketball’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was an early proponent, as was the tennis star John McEnroe. Most recently, Andy Murray credited part of his recent tennis success to Bikram yoga. Stanford’s football team has incorporated yoga into its training program.

Every training season for every major sport has a surge of news articles about coaches, trainers, physical therapists and the players themselves taking to yoga to gain an edge or prevent injury. Even if asanas may not be explicitly part of a training routine, you just have to look at the warm-up  exercises (stretching)  to see that yoga has been assimilated by the modern physical conditioning disciplines.

Photo: yoga class in Warrior 2 pose
Jenny St. Clair leads her sequence of poses, including Warrior 2, a pose that is a lot harder than it looks.

I am far more deeply concerned about grandmas, plumbers and desk jockeys who would have to catch on to the glaring truth that physical exercise—preferably yoga, but even a 30-minute walk—would instigate a dramatic shift in their quality of life. One of the most eye-opening experiences during my yoga teacher training this past summer was the demo class that we put on for “friends and family.”  Bless their souls for venturing into a yoga studio in support of my classmates. Many of those novices had serious difficulty getting down to and up from the floor, much less doing a downward-facing dog or triangle pose. Several of them had to leave the room after 20 minutes.

I am not looking down my nose at them because I’ve been practicing yoga for 10 years or am a few hours away from being certified as a teacher. The past six months have been a humbling experience for me because I have seen how easily my “command of yoga”  slipped into a tenuous toe-hold on the mat. For any one, an injury or illness provoke a sharp drop-off in well-being and resilience.  Fortunately for me, I could fall back on meditation, pranayama, self-massage, restorative yoga and other approaches to keep a handle on my mind-body connection. I had an acupuncturist, body worker, chiropractic, ayurvedic healer and physicians to help me.

Who should yoga evangelists be preaching to?

Yoga advocates don’t need to get giddy about which sports team or star athlete is sweating in a Bikram class. They need to convince senior citizens and keyboard (white-collar) workers  that even simple routines can improve their flexibility, balance and body awareness, as well as assist the body in fighting off disease and the brain in holding off cognitive decline.

By the way, yoga may have given some kind of competitive edge to the Seahawks over the Broncos, but it won’t compensate for the fact that the players are bashing each others’ brains out and twisting their limbs in configurations that exceed any asana’s potential to mortify the flesh. Any for my own defense, I did yoga while watching the Super Bowl came until I became so bored with the game that I decided to sort my socks (I was far more focused matching pairs).

Yoga DorkSeattle Seahawks Changing Future of Football with Yoga and Meditation and Official Super Bowl XLVIII Yoga Game! and Super Yoga Bowl XLVIII: Seahawks vs Broncos

Yoga Confluence: Yes, the yoga team won the Super Bowl

Hard (Australian) men are softies for Bikram yoga

Another news story about professional sports and yoga slipped across my computer monitor and I was not going to post about it, but it had an international angle and a different sport: the Australian rugby team.  For that reason, I am going to point to it:

Telegraph (UK) Hard men are softies for Bikram yoga
The Australian team are not alone in striking a sweaty yoga pose to speed their post-match recovery, improve general flexibility and help guard against injury. Their English opponents have also supplemented their training with the ancient discipline at the insistence of Mark Bitcon, head of performance with the national team as well as at Wigan Warriors, the rugby league club.

The article is actually thoughtfully written, with more than a passing knowledge of yoga terminology.  It ends mentioning  svastha or  “to stay as yourself” as “yoga’s perfect state of optimal health and balance in body and mind,” according to the story.  That the team is practicing Bikram yoga is a pivotal factor because if you’re sweating a river, it must be a real workout.

Yoga going strong on University of Maryland football team

It’s a slow news day on the college football beat so it’s always a safe shot to recur to the ol’ “athlete turns to yoga for flexibility” story to provide human interest and humor about grown men sprawling on the floor — and even farting.

Washington Post Terrapins turn to yoga for rejuvenation, recovery: “Yoga’s one of those things, you don’t really want to do it,” Francis said. “But we know it’s good for you. I’d never go out of my way to take a yoga class. I’ll put it that way. But I do understand it does have its benefits. When it’s offered, I’d be a [dumb guy] not to take advantage of it.”

Having followed media coverage of yoga for more than five years, this kind of story comes up so often that I have stopped writing about most of them. But in this case, it’s a home town team so I can’t ignore it. UM has lost four quarterbacks to injury this season and they’re converting a linebacker to the position this week so they may want to make yoga compulsory for quarterbacks in hopes of preventing injuries. On the other hand, being crushed by a couple of 300-pound defensive linemen is not something that Patanjali has a lot to say about.