As a former college basketball player, one of the things I find myself saying a lot is how I wish I had practiced yoga back when I played at Columbia. Just a few weeks ago when I had dinner with my former coach, Armond Hill, now the current Boston Celtics assistant coach, I told him how much yoga had helped my body, how it's all I do now, how great I feel -- and how he should get Shaq, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen to hit the mat! (We'll see what happens. Coach Hill is a reader of MindBodyGreen so hopefully this post is a reminder :)
This leads me to the great story in SLAM magazine about how more NBA teams are incorporating yoga and a few teams have even brought on yoga instructors full-time. The Clippers have employed Kent Katich as their full-time instructor, and all-star guard, Baron Davis (pictured), seems to be sold, saying:
"Yoga helps center you, especially for what we do. If you can find a place that keeps you centered, both mentally and physically, it can help push your game to the next level."
Though Davis is sold on yoga, Katich says he has to be careful about how he teaches, saying, "You can’t talk about the sun and opening your heart. [The players] are going to shut you off, and they’re going to laugh at you." Katich brings up a good point, which is very relevant to how yoga is taught and perceived as it continues to grow. It's still an uphill battle as some players are resistant, but Katich is positive, saying, "The guys are cool with it. We’ve moved past it. Yoga’s yoga. They see it in commercials. It’s acceptable at this point."
If yoga helped Kareem Abdul-Jabbar play in the league until he was 42, and if yoga helps LeBron James stay healthy and do all the ridiculously athletic things he can do, then those are pretty good testimonies right there.
The good news is that yoga is breaking down barriers and spreading to places where it wouldn't have ten years ago. What can I say, the stuff works!
image of Baron Davis via