During the fall 2013 season, Monday practice has been routine for the Marist College Football team; weightlifting, film, and yoga, yes you heard right, yoga. As surprising as this may seem, this has been a routine that the football team has done for years according to senior all-conference tackle, Phede Celestin who would much rather hold some postures that are important in stretching out the soreness in his body instead of running 100s, which Celestin claims to be the alternative, at least in the past.
Senior standout wide receiver, Armani Martin approaches yoga in a different manner. “Stretching is important to my body; I’ve realized that over the past two years. Last year I dealt with two knee injuries both during and after the season. My mentality has changed to the point where I know that I will only get out what I put in. This starts with football and I’ve applied it to everything including yoga.” This season has been Martin’s best. He leads the conference in receiving touchdowns with eight, and attributes his success to the benefits of yoga which has helped him keep his body balanced with each he weekly session that he attends.
Everyone has their own opinion in regards to yoga which is why they will either engage in a session, or do the latter. According to mensfitness.com, “despite what you may think, yoga isn’t just for women. Plenty of major sports teams and athletes work this ancient stretching and strength discipline into their pre and off-season workouts.”
The site praises the benefits of yoga for men, as well as athletes because no matter how flexible, strong, or in shape you may feel from other training, yoga will make it that much better because it serves as form of a maintenance drill where you work on the little things that come together as a whole. “Holding your body up will give you the strength that weights won’t, balancing some poses are essential in preventing most common falls and injury, and the concentration acquired through practicing yoga helps your body endure all sorts of conditions and distractions that you are surrounded by,” says Lori Matthews, who instructs the yoga sessions for the football team.
“I’ve always noticed the correlation between sports and yoga,” says Matthews who preached the importance of yoga stating that “it’s for everyone. It works on flexibility, endurance, balance, core, and overall body strength. Anyone who takes yoga will benefit from it.”
Every Monday, Matthews leaves the team with a quote that she deems important to the message of the day and for today, October 21, 2013that message related to togetherness. Quoting from the famous Vince Lombardi, Matthews said, “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.” Matthews then reverted the conversation back to yoga saying, “We must help each other by holding the various poses. This encourages your teammates to do the same. We can only get better if we do so together.”
Assistant Athletic Trainer Justin Giuliano is one who sees a benefit in yoga and pushes athletes as well as others to engage in some sessions. “Yes, yoga as a whole is very beneficial for people,” says Giuliano “there are so many people who are so inflexible that yoga helps stretch them out.”
Giuliano went on saying that “as your muscle mass grows, or when you gain a lot of weight, much like football players do over the course of their careers, there tends to be more tension put on your body and muscles. Doing yoga while your body is experiencing this change makes it easier for you to maintain flexibility.
Head Strength and Conditioning coach Jon Clancy spoke on the importance of flexibility and the benefits of yoga by speaking about what is known as the length-tension relationship. According to Clancy, our “muscles respond differently under different conditions. For instance, when we lengthen or stretch our muscles, we realize the amount of tension being put on our body, pushing it towards its limit.”
“The most important thing about yoga is the stretching because it is important that we stretch the tension out of our bodies”, says Clancy, “The more we stretch, the more we allow our bodies to progress in flexibility. This flexibility helps relieve the tension because we train our bodies with this stretch.”
The other importance of yoga according to Clancy is “yoga helps keep that balance in our body while we lift weights. Holding the postures help dramatically with balance and this translates to the many physical activities that you do related to sport”.
On the other hand, the important thing that Matthews wants the football team and others who are questioning the benefits of yoga is that “you only get what you put into it,” acknowledging that there are those who do not take it as seriously as other and only those players who come to the extra session on Wednesdays are truly benefiting from it all.
Many are seeing the benefits of yoga, not only athletes. This is why there has been an increasing trend in the new faces who are now taking yoga classes for their own personal reasons. “If you think that yoga isn’t for you, you are wrong especially from a physical standpoint,” says Matthews “Heavy-set athletes mainly football players are holding various postures for substantial amounts of times, yet they do so because of its overall benefit for the body so why shouldn’t you.”
Matthews doesn’t teach the yoga classes on campus for students but fortunately, each semester there are two sessions that run halfway through the semester sequentially. These courses are on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. and are taught by Cathrine Moore in the McCann arena.
So when you think that yoga isn’t for you, you are definitely not trying hard enough. Take a chance on yoga and reap the benefits. It will make a huge difference. If you’re still seeking some motivation, come in on Monday morning around 9:00 a.m. and watch the football team’s session. I’m sure you will change your mind.