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Don’t be surprised if you spot your favorite hoops star doing Downward-Facing Dog on the sidelines when the National Basketball Association kicks off its 69th season this week. Insiders say yoga’s popularity is growing in the basketball world as players shoot to increase flexibility, reduce the risk of injuries, and boost focus on and off the court.
“It is quite common for teams to have their own yoga teachers, because more athletes and trainers are seeing yoga as a way to decrease the probability of injury and also a way to heal and rejuvenate,” says Jason Anderson, a former professional basketball player for Atletico Clube de Portugal-turned-yoga teacher for the Atlanta Hawks.
Anderson, who has also worked with Hollywood stars like Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, and Julianne Hough, teaches players his Calmtivity style of yoga, which he describes as a “cool flow” with the goal of teaching your body to stay composed no matter what.
“I have heard feedback from players that they feel energetic, centered, and grounded after they experience [yoga] drills on the mat,” Anderson says. “Yoga is an important tool because it is the ultimate practice of awareness.”
Even if you’re not LeBron James (who has touted yoga as his secret weapon), you can check out Anderson’s blend of yoga, Pilates, and abdominal work in this 30-minute sequence he created exclusively for YJ.
“We are all athletes,” Anderson says. “Whether you play sports for fun or for your profession, you can do this flow to calm your mind, promote elasticity, and be in the zone.”