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American soccer forward, World Cup champion, and yogi Christen Press gives YJ a peek into her practice.
1. Her little sister, Channing, is the reason she got into yoga.
She studied yoga and meditation for four months in India. When I’m home in Los Angeles, my other sister, my mom, my dad, and I will do family yoga, with Channing as our instructor. We have a room at my parents’ house with mats, blocks, straps, and a big window. We pushed all of the furniture out so it looks like a little yoga studio now.
2. At one time she was called “the hunchback.”
I’ve had chronic back pain for five years, probably from traveling so much and sleeping in weird positions on airplanes. In college at Stanford University, they called me “the hunchback” because I was so bent over when I ran. Now I’m much more upright. I attribute that entirely to yoga.
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3. She fell in love with yoga in Sweden.
When I was playing for Women’s Professional Soccer, the league folded. Within five days, I had to find a new team and move to Sweden. It was a very stressful time in my life. I started taking yoga classes twice a week in Sweden. I could barely understand the instructor and I was a total beginner, but yoga helped me feel joy and contentment where I was in the world. Not only did I survive, those were the best two-and-a-half years of my life.
4. Yoga has changed the way she plays.
My yoga practice has allowed me to be so much more aware on the soccer field. I’ve learned to focus on my breath and be in the present moment. I get this heightened sense of perception: I know where my teammates are; I know where my defender is. I can play with freedom and confidence.
5. She takes yoga everywhere.
I’m home 75 days of the year, and the rest of the year I’m traveling. I have to leave friends and family behind because of my profession, but yoga is something I can take everywhere. That’s why it’s so comforting to me. If I get a good yoga session in—even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes—it transforms my whole day.
Christen’s Favorite Pose
Sasangasana (Rabbit Pose). It isn’t the most beautiful pose, but it relieves the stress in my neck.
Christen’s Words to Live By
Put your happiness first. Success and results will follow. Happy people make others happy.