Fact — yoga will make you a better athlete. The practice enhances athletic performance on many levels — from increased flexibility and strength to injury prevention and sharper focus at game time. Despite vast evidence of these benefits, we’ve found that that many athletes still view yoga with societal skepticism rooted in the stereotypical image of a yogi twisted up like a pretzel, singing weird chants in Sanskrit. Can’t say we blame them for the hesitation.
While pondering the dilemma of how to reach athletes, I serendipitously struck up a conversation with my mat neighbor after a recent yoga class. Turned out my new acquaintance was Gus Zadra, a professional soccer coach lured to yoga by his idol, pro soccer player Ryan Giggs of Manchester United FC. Coach Gus explained that after ongoing hamstring issues and several unsuccessful attempts to remedy the problem, the British footballer had turned to yoga. Today, Giggs not only publically credits yoga for mending his hamstrings, but also for prolonging his career and allowing him to successfully play into his forties for one of the best soccer clubs in the world.
My chance encounter led me to investigate other pro athletes who have made yoga an instrumental part of their training. The findings are impressive and encompass all sports:
- Basketball star LeBron James incorporates yoga into his training routine and even teaches kids the importance of stretching.
- NFL football players including the Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the New York Giants’ Amani Toomer do yoga to stay healthy and prolong their careers.
- Andy Murray believes yoga gave him the strength and mental focus to beat the number one tennis player, Roger Federer, at the Barclays Dubai Open in 2008.
- NHL hockey player Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins and others have found that regular yoga sessions give them an extra edge on the ice.
- The Cincinnati Reds’ young pitcher, Matt Maloney, believes yoga will give him the ability and focus to make the roster as a starter or reliever this season.
Some athletes begin yoga in their college days. Did I mention the University of Washington sports teams, who practice Jasyoga Athletica weekly?
The list goes on… and on.
It makes sense. Chances are your favorite pro does yoga to help their game. Maybe it’s time you give it a try.
Check out www.jasyoga.com to learn more.