Yoga has been welcome in professional sports for a while now—the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, and football wide receiver Victor Cruz have all credited yoga with helping them in their game—but we still get excited when we hear about a team or a MVP extolling the benefits of the practice.
This spring the Oakland Athletic’s adopted daily yoga practice during their spring training in Phoenix, working with the same teacher who has taught yoga to the Dodgers and Padres. The practice, designed specifically for the needs of baseball players, went over well with the players, A’s strength and conditioning coach Mike Henriques told MLB.com.
“The guys I thought wouldn’t take to it right away or appreciate it have actually been the guys that have come up to me and said they really like it,” he said.
“It’s nice to kind of break up the routine, because when you’re doing the same stretches every day, it becomes old really quick and you find yourself not really paying attention to it,” A’s pitcher Dan Straily said. “Yoga can’t hurt, that’s for sure. Just another way to get loose for the day.” The daily yoga won’t continue into the regular season, which begins March 31, but the players will all receive videos that they can follow along to on their iPads, Henriques said.
Of course, professional baseball players aren’t the only athletes using yoga to up their game.
In this video, Boston Celtics star forward Kevin Garnett shares how yoga has helped him both on and off the basketball court. “I’d have all this energy, and I couldn’t control it,” he says. “Being in games, I’d get dumb fouls because I was just out of control, so I had a friend suggest yoga to me, and I tried it out. Not only did it help me stay flexible and durable, but it helped me center myself and understand the energy and know how to use it properly.”