The secret behind the NFL’s best receiver? Yoga, of course

Setting aside all the issues with football — and there are plenty — we’ll just jump right to the latest evidence of yoga’s gaining a toehold in mainstream America: Calvin Johnson, by nearly all accounts the best wide receiver in the NFL, practices yoga.

And now ESPN — by nearly all accounts, the biggest sports media outlet — has a story on his pre-game practice:

When Calvin Johnson woke up two Sundays ago, before he put together a 329-yard performance that was the second-best receiving game in NFL history, he went through his typical routine.

Wake up. Stretch. Do yoga. Get treatment.

Three of the four are typical. Yoga, which he started doing a few years ago when Drew Stanton was with theDetroit Lions because his wife was a yoga instructor, is not.

“Whatever I’m feelin’,” Johnson said of his yoga preference. “If I need to work on my hamstrings, if I need a full body deal or work on the hips, whatever needs work.”

With Stanton gone to Arizona, Johnson’s pregame yoga routine is now done in solitude with his yoga mat and a yoga video. Johnson, the best receiver in the NFL, now sees yoga as a way to maintain some flexibility and improve his overall health.

It isn’t a consistent thing for him, but it is part of his routine.

“I’ve done it for years,” Johnson said. “I’ve definitely seen a positive impact from just being loose in my hips, my hamstrings, you know.

“So I know it’s something that worked for me and I’ve been doing it since.”

I also heard that the game’s best running back, Adrian Peterson, went to Rolfer recently to deal with stiff hamstring issues — which I think is a step further outside the mainstream than yoga. (Despite all our own Rolfing experiences.)

Of course, in both these cases, as best as the reporting suggests, Peterson and Johnson both are focused on the physical benefits of yoga and/or Rolfing. Yoga as exercise, in other words. But I know many who advocate for a “get them in the door” approach — and then see what happens next.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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