Yoga for Athletes: A Brainstorm by Carey Rockland

25 April 2011 | By Shelley Eades | 1 Comment

I want to blog about this because I am about to co-teach this workshop with Traci Joy Burleigh (April 30, 1:30-3:30PM at Bernal Yoga).

Why is Yoga for Athletes a good idea?

I have always tended toward athleticism, but yoga has been an incredibly difficult practice to incorporate due to extreme inner resistance. As is often true when such inner resistance is present, yoga has dramatically improved the quality of my life, athletic and otherwise.

How yoga has helped me athletically:

Yoga has brought forward the subtleties of presence that I had effectively ignored.

Yoga has improved my intuitive balance and spatial awareness from a state of calm that I can now take with me into competition or chaos.

Yoga brings up the inner monsters that take me off track in my sport of choice. I get to address them on the yoga mat, where it is quiet (and I beat them).

Yoga has strengthened my body in ways I cannot replicate in the gym or in martial arts. This type of strength has improved my lifts and fighting style. Slow chatturanga has increased the amount of weight I can bench.

How athleticism has helped me with yoga:

Athleticism teaches that improvement comes with practice. There is no yoga standard to reach. Practice effects change.

Athleticism has given me the courage to be more present with myself. Yoga requires presence without an external opponent, which means there are no distractions from self.

Athleticism has given me lessons from loss. I learn more when I lose. Recognizing the lesson at hand leads to growth.

Athleticism requires persistence. The work is always in progress. A great performance is not the end of the story.

Athleticism has toughened my skin. Being slightly less sensitive has given me the courage to go again, then one more time, and then another, and another. Eventually I grow beyond my perceived limits.

Again, why this is a good idea:

The labels of yogi or athlete are not important. Deepening the relationship with self and physical experience makes life better, physically and emotionally. Exploring this relationship from two nicely counterbalanced perspectives enriches the experience. The strengths of the yogi and the strengths of the athlete are strengths for living.

-Carey Rockland
Personal Trainer

One Comment on “Yoga for Athletes: A Brainstorm by Carey Rockland”

  1. Carey has some interesting points to make about yoga. I have always been drawn to competitive athletics. The best time I’ve ever had was playing rugby; I played for ten years and never learned the score of one game I played in. It didn’t matter because I was having a blast and that was what counted. I’ve tried some martial arts, but I’ve shied away due to the shadow of violence that surounds it, after all it is designed for self-defence or fighting. Yoga has similar characteristics in that thru practice you begin to make amazing advances with your body. Your mind and body are relaxed while you mold your body into different asanas. This inner growth is what attracted me to yoga. An additional bonus was the fantastic people you begin to know when your practice grows. That surprised me. Finally, yoga has introduced me to my toughest opponent, which is my ego. In athletics you work hard to be good and in yoga you focus on relaxation to be better. But it’s like rugby because nobody is keeping score. I signed up for Yoga for Athletes…And Carey and T.J. promised not to hurt me if I signed up. I’m not an athlete, I’m just an old guy trying. Later.


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