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Yoga Is the Right Way to Go The question that athletes ask is Does yoga benefit an athletes performance? Some people say it can damage all types of ligaments in the legs and arms due to the intense over stretching and positions that put the body in awkward moves. Personally I believe that all athletes bodies arent made the same, but yoga could be an essential necessity for the mind, body, and soul of all athletes. Imagine a 240-pound professional football player stretching his sweat-drenched body to its limits in heat of more than 110 degrees. This scene doesnt take place on a football field, but in a heated Bikram yoga studio where a lot of athletes go to prevent aches and pains. Yoga is a way to achieve higher self-awareness, was around as early as 200 B.C. in India, and has been gradually growing in popularity in the western world over the past four decades and athletes are especially taking a like to the stretches that were once only for girls. (Stiles) Traditional styles of yoga, including Hatha yoga, which consists of thousands of poses; athletes ranging from football players to soccer players take part in this type of yoga. The biggest yoga boom has occurred over the past decade according to statistics from the International Association of Yoga Therapists. The Association estimates there were 20 million Americans practicing some form of yoga in 2002 compared to 6 million in 1994, within those statistics are professional and collegian athletes that have went over to the yoga side of the game. Increased awareness of yoga as a healing method along with high-profile celebrity endorsements have contributed to the growing numbers of yoga users recently. Deonte Hall (NFL player) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (NBA player) are some famous yogis that have been students of Bikram Choudhury, who founded his own style of hot yoga in India. Newer students

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of yoga are more concerned about how they look rather than the spiritual basis. This is what athletes are concerned about; they dont take yoga as being spiritual they see it as more of a meditation for the mind, body, and soul, and a way to make them bigger faster and stronger. Bikram yoga incorporates 26 of the Hatha poses and two breathing exercises in a specific order to get the maximum benefit for the body, said Megan Cooney, a certified Bikram instructor, who teaches at three studios in the Boston area (Dunham). Choudhury developed the Bikram style after he suffered an knee injury from weight training. He first practiced Hatha yoga in his native India at age 4. In the late 1960s he brought the 26 posture series, that he claims restored his health, to the U.S. Today Bikrams College of India has graduated over 2,500 students who teach at more than 350 affiliated studios worldwide. Teacher certification is a process that takes place in Los Angeles. Teaching Bikram yoga without going to his school is considered fraud since Bikram has a copyright on the specific sequence and conditions under which it must be practiced. The 26 poses, or asanas, and two breathing exercises, or pranayamas, must be done in a heated carpeted room. This type of yoga is what the professional athletes enjoy most because of the relaxation you feel while participating in it. Deonte Hall explains the training as intense. You are immersed in the environment full time for nine weeks he said. The challenge was well worth it Hall said. Three and a half years after he started yoga he still finds Bikram a constant challenge. The benefits that Bikram have are what are attracting some of todays professional athletes to this style. An article in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette (October2, 2004) showed Peter Sejna of the Worcester IceCats hockey team. Sejna spent a lot of his off-season training

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practicing Birkram exercises. He said it helped him to recover after intensive workouts. According to an article in the Seattle Times (August 29,2011), Seattle Seahawks football players believe that this style of hot yoga will curb injuries and rejuvenate them after a tough workout. Seahawk wide receiver Bobby Ingram, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, and safety Terreal Bierra are three team members who have reported positive results from the Bikram sessions recommended to them by their strength coaches. Other NFL teams are considering making some form of yoga mandatory as an off-season workout routine. Studies state that yoga is beneficial for flexibility, strength, depression, and lower back pain, among others. There are some studies evaluating the physical improvements with yoga practice therefore, it is not unreasonable to assume that yoga would be preventative for physical injury. Yoga is among one of the ten most commonly used CAMs according to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Preventios National Center for Health Statistics based on data from a 2002 National Health Interview Survey. The study defines CAM as therapies not usually taught in U.S. medical schools or generally available in U.S. hospitals. (Dunham)

Bikram veterans shared their experiences with the new students. The seasoned yogis tell the newer students to stay in the room for the whole 90 minutes, even though they might be wanting to escape the heat. This advice came in handy when new students begin to feel dizzy and nauseous. One woman in the Bikram class, who had been going to classes for three years, ran the New York City marathon the week before. She said she couldnt imagine getting through it without the help of hot yoga into her training schedule. Yoga works really well with athletes,

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said Ben Miller, a physical therapist at Northeastern University. Miller works primarily with the NU football team as an athletic trainer. In his eighteen years at Northeastern he has worked with swimmers, hockey players, basketball players, and other athletes. Miller said that athletes benefit from the flexibility, movement, balance, and joint positioning yoga focuses on. When it comes to Bikram yoga, he believed the heat was beneficial in helping move the ligaments, tendons, and muscles to make them more mobile. Even though there isnt a program within the athletic department for athletes to use yoga, or hot yoga in their specific training programs, but Miller said that some Northeastern athletes take advantage of yoga classes offered by Northeastern and outside studios. Everyone has their own thoughts about yoga and the benefits or the non-benefits you can receive from yoga, but from my research more athletes and yoga instructors are staying that yoga is so beneficial to the body that its essential to incorporate it into your lifestyle and schedule if you are an athlete. If you sit back and think about it, our strength and conditioning coaches always talk about getting in the hot tub to recuperate our bodies so why not include some hot yoga to help the mind body and soul?

Work Cited
Kristy Dunham"Well Good NYC." 5 Awesome Olympic Athletes Who Do Yoga. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2012. <>.

Tara Stiles "Yoga Workout for Athletes." Men's Health Magazine : Men's Guide to Fitness, Health, Weight Loss, Nutrition, Sex, Style and Guy Wisdom. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2012.

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Washington Post. The Washington Post, 03 Aug. 2010. Web. 19 Oct. 2012. <>.