When it was all said and done, my body was beat up. I had trained so many imbalances into my body as with all sport specific trainings. I remember the first 6 or 7 months after I finally made the decision to talk away from football my body hurt, I mean hurt-hurt like I shouldn’t feel like this in my early 20’s hurt. A part of that was shedding the 50 some odd pounds I was carrying around that final season and as that melted away my joints began to feel better, but I found I was still in pain. I had a friend who had finished up a year or two before me suggest I get into yoga; he had done it when he was done playing and it helped his body tremendously. Like most advice I heard at the time I completely blew it off and said I would try a more traditional route.
I was in the weight room 6x a week like I had been for years but instead of lifting for size I tried to correct my imbalances. I focused on my dynamic movements with low weights coupled with traditional therapy and this helped tremendously (I was fortunate enough to go to and learn from an amazing staff of physical therapists in my city that helped to change my life forever). At a certain point I hit a wall and wasn’t making any progress and all I could hear was my friends voice nagging in the back of my head so I figured why not, might as well give yoga a try I don’t have much to lose by giving it a shot.
So, give it a shot I did, and I tried to just carve out 30 minutes a day whether that was going to the classes at the university gym or tracking down a video on YouTube. I made a conscious effort to work on my balancing my body for at least 30 minutes a day and within the first month I felt a major difference. Let’s be honest here, the majority of us trained our butts off in the weight room and on the field but very few of us incorporated yoga into our daily routine unless it was built into our S&C program. The craziest thing happened, as my body became more balanced, I also found myself more grounded mentality, that 30 minutes a day that seemed like a huge sacrifice became a moment of quiet reflection I looked forwards to. It became that little respite of peace I made for myself in the chaos of the day. The time I took to help balance my body and my mind became an oasis in the storm of my life and the benefits were astounding.
Who knows maybe it becomes your passion and you find a new focus in life? That’s what former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL star Ricky Williams did at the end of his career. He went as far to say in his Forbes article (https://www.forbes.com/sites/omaidhomayun/2019/04/15/ricky-williams-on-redefining-yourself/?sh=6a885dca4f49 ) that “My outer world (fame and success) was great but my inner world felt like a wreck. I made an intention to make some kind of balance in my life.” In his travels he spent time at a yoga ashram and became engrossed in the meditation and balance yoga brought to not only his physical but also his mental and spiritual health. He was able to find a balance he had not found in the gym or as an athlete and went on to create his own yoga studio to help other find their balance.
I think yoga is beneficial to people of all ages and the beauty of it is that it comes in so many different forms. There is ashtanga yoga, Bikram (hot yoga), and many other forms that you can find to fit your lifestyle and time requirements. An article by active.com (https://www.active.com/health/articles/why-every-athlete-should-practice-yoga) speaks on why EVERY athlete from the high-level competitors to the weekend warriors should be doing yoga. With benefits ranging from injury prevention to core strength and balance there is no reason not to incorporate it into your life. The beauty of the digital era is there is a wealth of videos on YouTube ranging anywhere from 10 minutes to hour long blocks with beginner to advanced lessons. Find a video series you like and try to carve out 30 minutes a day for a week to work through a yoga video. If you find benefit in this share with your friends in family to help improve their life!