In the latest round of yoga in sports news, Iowa State is next to incorporate yoga into their basketball team’s pre-season training. Granted, yoga in sports is nothing new, but it does elevate our prana to see more and more athletes enjoy the benefits of the practice.
Coaches are always looking to keep pre-season training fun and physically challenging for the team. For the ISU, Head Coach Fred Hoiberg had something new in mind for the Cyclones: yoga. Which means the boys are getting a taste of what we kombucha drinkers have known for years, that yoga is a great way to strengthen the mind and increase flexibility.
The team has actually been taking forty-minute weekly yoga sessions for the past three summers since Coach Hoiberg signed on in 2010. And the new routine has been a big hit for these guys:
“I feel like it’s definitely built our mental toughness,” [forward Georges] Niang said. “If you’re not used to doing something, just pushing your body to a new limit and having yourself know at the end of the day that you can do it when you went in to it thinking that you couldn’t. When Emily is telling you not to let up, this is all in your head, it’s so true,” he added. “It’s like when you’re down five with 30 seconds to go. You have to tell yourself you can do it and fight through.”
“Yoga’s been great for us,” senior Melvin Ejim said. “Physically, we’re getting a lot of stretching in, a lot of exercise that we don’t necessarily do in the weight room. And then mentally, it’s challenging for a lot of guys.”
“To be able to completely focus on one thing, to let go of what your mind is thinking and kind of just give yourself the opportunity to get everything out of what you’re doing,” said Ejim, “I think it’s a great opportunity.”
Maybe yoga can’t take all the credit, but since they started practicing it, ISU has made two NCAA tournaments in a row and won 23 games in each of those years. So, uh, it’s not really hurting them, either. Will they go all the way this year? We’ll have to watch and find out! Or do like us, wait until the championships.
image cred Eli Hamann/Ames Tribune