We yogis at Yoga Direct got all kinds of excited when we saw an article pop up in ESPN Magazine on how the Seattle Seahawks have been incorporating yoga and meditation into their training this year. Not only do we (secretly?) love football, quarterback Russell Wilson was born and raised in Yoga Direct’s hometown of Richmond, VA!
Many yogis (like myself) are also athletes, and yoga seems to be our little secret that gives us an edge and a leg up (literally) on competitors. Head coach Pete Carroll was looking at unique ways to improve team morale. Since 2011, he has kicked off practice each morning with a short meditation. Although players are not required to hit the field this early, several opt in for this stress-relieving and anxiety-reducing practice led by performance sports psychologist Dr. Michael Gervais. All 91 players also participate in yoga, now a mandatory part of training as of this year. Not only does yoga help the team members focus and calm their minds, it also helps to recover overworked muscles and improves flexibility.
Meditation and yoga are just two steps in coach Carroll’s attempt to create a roster of happier players. For the Seahawks, long gone are the days of cursing and swearing at player to amp them up. Instead, each player thanks reporters after giving interviews. Minding manners and football? We like it. Players are encouraged to use social media to interact with fans, and also encouraged to talk to the team psychologist about stressors and mental health issues. In light of the recent NFL tragedies -- like the horrendous Jovan Belcher murder/suicide or arrest of Patriot’s star Aaron Hernandez on murder charges -- we approve of this softer approach to football training. Just don’t tell the Redskins about our secret admiration.