Professional athletes & Olympians use yoga to up their sport performance. Former Padres utility man Eric Young sweats it out doing Bikram Yoga. From what we understand he once relied on Bikram yoga for his off-season conditioning. What's also interesting is that Padres trainer, Todd Hutcheson, has integrated yoga into the Padres' training regimen over the years. Former left fielder and first baseman, Ryan Klesko touted the benefits of yoga in several interviews.
So what's the deal? Easy. Yoga promotes flexibility, strength and mental discipline. Loose, pliable muscles (and joints) are less prone to injury and recover more quickly. While many MLB players are newbies to the experience, some, like current free-agent Khalil Greene, have practiced before.
So why not just do some stretching? Because yoga offers variety and challenge. Some forms (like Bikram) are quite strenuous--the opposite of boring. Padres players aren't the only professional athletes practicing yoga. Pro golfer David Duval, soccer veteran Ryan Giggs, football stars Eddie George and Shannon Sharp, past and current NBA powerhouses (Kevin Garnett, Emeka Okafor, Bruce Bowen), racecar driver Danica Patrick, and other sport champs all use yoga.
Another yogi, Tony Parrish (Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys), used yoga to get his mojo back after breaking his left ankle and fibula. Check out this pic! This is a Bikram pose, by the way. Taking the practice one step further is Heisman winner and running back Ricky Williams. Williams, who played for the Canadian Football League, and most recently the Balitimore Ravens, also taught yoga at Toronto's Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center. He used to squeeze in classes before practice! In interviews, Ricky cited the teaching opportunity as a key reason for joining the Argonauts.
Olypmians too are yoga smart. Chandra Crawford (Canadian Cross-Country Team) says her Yin & Flow yoga practice keeps her nerves at bay and helps her focus. US Freestyle skiier Shannon Deanne Bahrke likes a good power yoga class to improve strength. And with the U.S. national Yoga Asana Championships getting more press every year, Rajashree Choudhury's (wife of Bikram Choudhury) dream of seeing Yoga as an Olympic event just may become a reality!
Other Olympians practicing yoga to improve their performance: cyclist Evelyn Stevens, swimmer Rebecca Soni, and world record holder in the 200 Individual Medley, Ariana Kukors, began her Bikram practice while in High School. As our readers know, many of our staff practice and promote Bikram Yoga as for everyone...This 2012 NY Yoga Examiner article tells you more.