UCLA Basketball Star: Yoga Makes Me Better

"Physically it makes me more flexible, more explosive, less susceptible to injury. Mentally, it's just like a way to regroup during the day. It helps with my focus. It's a way for me to become a better athlete, and it's also helped with the mental side of sports," says 6-foot-8 UCLA basketball star, Reeves Nelson about his daily yoga practice.

Fox reports that Nelson hits the mat almost daily with his instructor Kent Katich. Katich works with a number of pro-basketball players including NBA stars Baron Davis, Blake Griffin, and Kevin Love.

Reeves has fell in love with yoga and says:

"It's something I'll probably do for the rest of my life, because quite honestly, I like it that much."

So how does Reeves think it will help his game? He says:

"... in a game, you want to be in control. That's like the main thing about yoga. It's difficult physically, but you want to be in control and calm during the game."

Reeves also likes that yoga helps him ease his mind:

"It's great because it gives you time to unwind and settle down and just sort through all the thoughts in your head... And then it gives you time to relax."

Katich, who is a former college basketball player, thinks that more athletes are embracing yoga because they understand the 'importance of playing in harmony', and says:

"Their body is their tool and they need it to function at its highest level. So they need to have the flexibility and stamina and strength. ... If you're familiar with how your body feels and moves, you don't get rigid. I'm asking you to get in positions that are awkward, and then breathe and relax. So you're taking what would normally be a stiff motion or movement and you're learning to move effortlessly through it."

What about the importance of athletes having a 'killer instinct'? Katich doesn't buy it:

"I personally think those qualities are manufactured... I don't think you need them. Sport itself is intended to be harmonious. You need your competitor to do well for you to rise to another level. … If you look at the true artists, they play their own game. You don't have to have this 'killer instinct' — it's a cliché."

Namaste to that!

Yoga is incredible for keeping your body & mind healthy. Ready to learn about how the power of food can also create a sound body & mind? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.

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