Across the pond many professional-athletes are turning to yoga to help raise their game. Joe Johnson, a six-time NBA All-Star, practices Bikram before games to relax and prepare himself mentally. “It’s pretty strenuous as far as a workout,” Johnson tells to the Huffington Post. “It loosens me up, actually. If we have to be at the gym at 5:30, I’ll go about 3 and I get out at 4:30. I go straight to the arena. I’ll already be loose and ready to go. It’s very relaxing. I’ve never meditated before, or anything of that nature, but when I started doing Bikram, it just kind of goes with [it]. I found myself meditating and really relaxing and clearing my thoughts.”
American footballer, Larry Fitzgerald, who plays for the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL) is another convert. He currently ranks fifth all-time in NFL history in receiving yards per game for a career. Soon to turn 30, he has only missed three games during his nine nine-year career. He explains how a good diet, plenty of rest and regular Bikram classes are the keep him in great shape but like all Bikram lovers, he has to confess that it’s not easy, “I do Bikram yoga probably three, four times a month. That Bikram yoga right there kills me though, man. You think it’s gonna be easy because it is essentially stretching but man, by the time I get to the floor, I’m exasperated.”
We all know its worth it though, and Fitzgerald notes how the heat helps him to lose weight and increase his flexibility, “I think the heat loosens you up even more and obviously with all the sweat, I’m burning calories. I have to play at my desired weight. I like to play at 215.” NBA coach Kent Katich has observed over that over the last decade athletes, particularly men have been becoming increasingly more open to yoga practice. He belives that because young people are now able to research and access information more easily, they are becoming more aware of how powerful the benefits of yoga can be. He “Initially, the athletes approached it from the view of improving their bodies, which makes sense,” Katich explains. “But more and more lately, they’re embracing the mental aspect of it: concentration, discipline, focus, calmness, breath awareness, meditation, clarity.”
Steven Jackson, is yet another American Footballer player who practices yoga weekly.
With the average NFL career estimated to last from Jackson has missed only two games over the past four seasons and only 13 in his career like many, he believes that yoga helps him extend his career. “It keep the limbs limber,” Jackson told HuffPost. “It’s a form of mediation, too. I feel good when I stretch, especially after traveling so much.”