NFL players are warming up to a new practice to help them build strength, prevent injuries and even increase mental toughness: yoga.
The San Diego Chargers, the Cleveland Browns and the Dallas Cowboys use yoga as a team activity, and many individuals players are amateur yogis, including Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall and New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, reported The Associated Press.
Proponents of yoga for football players point out that normal stretches are much less effective than yoga poses at strengthening multidirectional joints like wrists, ankles and shoulders. Yoga even “keeps muscles pliable and allows them to recover faster,” which may be why even more teams, including the New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars, offer yoga instruction for players on recovery days, reported The AP.
Gwen Lawrence specializes in “athlete-focused yoga” and has taught yoga to the New York Giants for more than 10 years, according to The AP. Yoga requires not only physical toughness but also mental toughness, she said.
“They need to be trained when they’re in a tough situation, they can’t just bail,” Lawrence said according to The AP. “A lot of times they’ll be like, “Ah, this is too hard. This hurts,’ and they’ll jump out of that. You can’t do that in a game, and you can’t do that in yoga.” (RELATED: NYU Just Announced Its Medical School Will Be Tuition Free. But What Will That Really Mean?)
Different players should focus on yoga movements that strengthen different parts of the body, Lawrence told The AP. For example, quarterbacks should work on the neck, while linemen should strengthen their hips and wrists.
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