In case there was any confusion, men practice yoga, too. And we’d be willing to bet there’s a bunch of skeptical guys out there who have tried yoga simply because they’d heard some of their favorite professional athletes have taken to the practice to better their game, as well as their bodies, their minds and their lives. It’s just math, people.
Kevin Love of the of the Cleveland Cavaliers has been practicing yoga for the past six years. “Things that we’ve done in yoga is [sic] all applicable to basketball and every day life,” Love says in the video below. “The balance, stability, strength, endurance, and another thing is the breath and the breathing. I’m still learning that today and that’s the beauty of it. Like basketball and or like anything in life, you can always get better and you can never stop continuing to get better. That’s what makes yoga practice fun. You can do it anywhere.”
Kevin Love is just one of the pro basketball players we’ve been hearing about with a regular yoga practice, along with the likes of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams, just to name only a few. There are actually lots of athletes practicing yoga in a variety of sports (see: the entire Seattle Seahawks team) and this is great because not only are they reaping the benefits, but they’re proving that there needn’t be a stereotypical “yogi” anymore. This is 2015. Shatter that glass backboard of false standards, if you know what we mean. By the way, for the record, it’s not solely guys who may be turned off by yoga stereotypes.
Anyway, in the NBA, there’s one yoga teacher in particular who has helped dispel any myths around the practice and who it’s good for (hint: everyone. it’s good for everyone, including dudely basketball players). The man’s name is Kent Katich, aka the NBA’s leading yogapreneur. Katich found his NBA niche years ago, and has since been the go-to guy for basketball players interested in getting in tune with their bodies, and yep, their minds, emotions and spiritual side, too.
An interview with Katich via basketball site Slam gives us a pretty interesting and refreshing peek into how he approaches the players with yoga and how there is still some hesitation from players thanks in large part to the media pushing a certain perception of what yoga is and isn’t. But overall, yoga is really catching on and for all the right reasons.
Here are a few snippets from the interview.
On yoga becoming more popular in the NBA.
Ten years ago, it was sort of bubbling. Five years ago, it accelerated. I think right now, most of the skepticism is gone. Individuals such as Kevin, Blake and LeBron—they are role models, and they’re showing people, “Maybe what you thought [yoga] to be…isn’t that.” I entered the practice the same way. I didn’t necessarily know what it was, and it took me time to explore it, to grow into it. But I knew there was something there, I just had to find it. I think these athletes are changing the perceptions of what [yoga] is, and that’s going to accelerate and process much, much faster.
On the slow burn of yoga’s popularity in pro sports and the dissolving of stereotypes.
Here’s the thing—it’s been brewing, but no one put it on the front burner. I also worked with Giancarlo Stanton, he’s 6-5, 240. For a young 25-year-old that is being called the most powerful man in the history of baseball, for him to embrace yoga and to demonstrate it and to be a face to what the practice can be—it speaks volumes. When I enlisted [Love, Stanton] and said, “Let’s see if we can make a huge impact instead of a dent,” they were all on board. They get it. They know what it’s done for them, and they see its benefits. Everybody is sort of taking off the mask…and [realizing] it’s something we can all benefit from. I think we need to share it with people that may have a little apprehension. What was once perceived as being too feminine, I think that’s going away.
On the particular image that yoga has had in culture thanks to the media (or we could just say Yoga Journal).
You can put the message out there…and it doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s true. But if you put it out there enough, people begin to believe it. [Marketers] put out this image, people started to see it, and that’s the image they bought into. I say that’s not an accurate image…you’re missing out on hundreds of millions of other people that don’t necessarily fit that stereotype. Kevin Love is not wearing tights, and he’s not chanting. I think all these athletes are really contributing in a huge, huge way to totally, radically change the concept. They’re instrumental in shifting our take on this particular practice.
But no offense to tights-wearing chanting yogis, right Katich? Oy. This is the only issue we have with this approach. Don’t slam other practitioners because you’d rather not wear yoga pants and speak in sanskrit.
Anyway, so does he focus only on the physical? Yes, and no.
I start with the physical because that’s what they’re familiar with. If something is going on in their bodies, we have to address it. Ultimately though when I work with guys if it’s long enough, it evolves into a little more mental, a little more emotional, a little more spiritual if you will.
Read the rest of the interview at Slam. Here’s the video where Kevin Love share his love for yoga. We hope you’ll share it with someone you love. Wink. Nudge. Elbow to the ribs. Pat on the behind. Good game.