Strong and Smart

Soccer star Brandi Chastain knew yoga would make her a more agile player, but she never expected it to make her a smarter one, too.

Like many other yoga-loving athletes, Brandi Chastain says her practice immediately improved her game. Just doing a simple Down Dog, she says, helped counterbalance the explosive sprinting, leaping, and kicking she does on the field.


But the bigger surprise was how yoga helped her make better decisions in the heat of competition. She remembers a game the U.S. women played in Alabama against a powerful Brazilian team. It was boiling hot, Brazil was gaining momentum, and the U.S. was chasing the ball. “We were killing ourselves chasing that ball,” Chastain says. “We were just going to wear ourselves out.” She knew she had to slow down and regroup. “So I drew from yoga and went back to my yoga breathing.” Thanks in part to Chastain’s levelheaded leadership, the Americans ended up winning the game, 5-1.

Yoga also helps Chastain recover from competition. “Physical exertion can be mentally draining,” she says. “You can either crash and burn, or come
down in a peaceful way.”

Although she’ll never stop being manic, Chastain’s a lot less stressed. “I still find it hard to sit still for long,” she admits, “but finding that peace has
really helped.”

Read more about Brandi Chastain in our Online Extra section.