Quite a few years ago I convinced Bobby Nystrom, one of our most famous hockey players on LI, that yoga would enhance his flexibility and to grab a few friends and try a class. He was in agreement that he needed a way to get and keep his muscles pliable with all the sports he was involved in; ice climbing, iron man triathlons, tennis and golf being a few. Thankfully he did try, but better yet, he enjoyed it.
As a follow up, I wanted Bob to talk about his yoga experience, how he fits it into his workout/sports schedule and if he saw the benefits. He had much to say, especially that he doesn’t do it enough. “Because I am involved in so many things, work and play,” he says, “ I definitely don’t do it as often as I would like. I need to dedicate more time because doing yoga is beneficial to all sports, especially when you tend to over develop or over train certain muscle groups.” In Bob’s case, it is specific. “I do a ton of pushups and pull ups (for ice climbing), and that makes my shoulders tight. Running and biking over develops my quads, so my hamstrings are a constant issue—always have been since I played hockey.”
When I asked if he thought yoga was helping him prevent injuries, it prompted him to recall how long it had been since he actually had one. “I can’t say for sure, but the stretching beforehand has to help.” He recognized that he had hamstring injuries as a younger athlete because he did not incorporate stretching in his daily routine.
Bob admitted to me that he hasn’t continued with many formal yoga classes, but he tries to keep limber with the P90X yoga DVD. “It is definitely not the same,” he said, “but I find it really helpful.” “Why then,” I asked, “Wouldn’t you want to bring yoga in to replace other forms of weekly exercise and training? Is it that you are not convinced that it really is as good as other body building techniques?”
Although Bob loves yoga and what it does for him, he didn’t know why he hasn’t made more time for it, but I understood. One reason is the adrenaline/power rush we get with many forms of exercise that make it quite addictive. Secondly, we are so conditioned into believing that weight training and working out hard will give us the strength and “muscle” we need to do the sports we love that we seem to forget how important flexibility is to maintain. Bob was quick to note, “The more I train for the other sports, the shorter my golf swing becomes and the less extension I have in my arms for swimming.” He pledged that is something he wants to work on in the future.
“The thing about weight training,” I told him, “is that it is an aggressive act that the body performs. Nothing wrong with that, but we need to balance it with a more passive form of exercise.” He totally agreed and reminded me about the breathing benefits that doing yoga also provided him. More arm expansion for swimming and ice climbing, more rotation and shoulder flexibility for his golf swing, less potential for injury and a clear head…what more can you get from two hours a week?
Hopefully, the next time I blog about Bobby, it will be to talk about how his yoga practice gave him an extra 30 yards on his drive. The studio is always open to you Bob, so come on down!