The Denver Broncos Head Coach may have nixed the yoga program a few years ago, but that hasn’t stopped some of the players from getting their weekly practice in on the mat. It’s an interesting story, really.
It was 2009 when Josh McDaniels was hired as the Broncos Head Coach and poo-pooed the regular yoga program that had teammates stretching, working on balance and practicing meditation. ”I don’t even know what that is,” McDaniels said in an interview, laughing off Downward Dog. But new Head Coach John Fox (hired in 2011) and the rest of the team get the last laugh because it’s game on again for yoga. Broncos Defensive Tackle Mitch Unrein and Offensive Lineman Jeff Byers go to yoga classes at least once a week and have seen the benefits.
“I don’t think anything that involved stretching and balancing and things like that could hurt on the football field because that’s what football is right? The more flexible you are, if you can be more balanced [you're] probably going to play better,” Byers told Colorado’s 9News.
Unrein adds that practicing yoga helps prevent injuries:
“The main thing is it helps get the soreness out of you and also prevents injuries. It also helps you stretch and get more flexibility, so when you get in those weird situations on the field with your legs and your arms, you have that flexibility so you are less likely to get an injury.”
Perhaps star linebacker Von Miller should have continued his practice. Earlier in 2013 he had this to say about ditching yoga:
“I’m cutting out the yoga,” Miller said. “I think it worked well for me, but I’m just trying to be a beast. I’m trying to get away from the Gumby stuff. I don’t want to rely on that. I just want that to be like second nature. I want to play football…I want to work out, not do the yoga stuff—I want to get my conditioning up so I can play offense, too (laughing). I just want to get it done.”
Unfortunately, Miller tore his ACL in December and has had to sit out ever since then. Not for nothing…we’re just saying.
Of course, preventing injuries in football is like trying to keep hot wings away from Super Bowl fans: nearly impossible. But we’ll root for any team who takes a little time out on the mat to improve their condition inside and out.