Bodyweight vs. Dumbbells … is yoga the new “it” routine in pro sports?

Last night, at age 48, Herschel Walker won his fourth professional mixed martial arts fight. Though he has had celebrated careers as an Olympic-level bobsledder and professional football player in the NFL, he says he is now in the best shape of his entire life. In February, he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash. To put this in perspective, the average time in the NFL is around 5.0. For running backs, Walker’s old position, the time drops to around 4.5. Yes, Walker is faster now than he was in his “prime.”

Why? Because he does not use any resistance weights when he trains. He observes what most football players would call a “snack only” diet. He has his mental health under control – he suffers dissociative identity disorder, commonly known as multiple personalities.

And Walker is not the only one. More and more professional athletes are turning to a gentler form of training to tap into their best performances. Don’t believe us, considerthis excerpt from Elephant Journal’s Sean Conley. The trend is catching on: more and more, people are turning to gentle, body resistance training over “body punishment” in the gym. Take a look at these NFL yogi’s on February 6.

(… Cheer the Steelers, the Black & the Gold! here we go. This town of Pittsburgh’s Heart and Soul! here we go.)

Gentleness is starting to gain traction in football.

For years, the NFL’s Front Office turned a blind eye to players’ health and wellness, just as most of us ignore what our bodies tell us day to day. Luckily, players are waking up to the reality of what they are doing to themselves: the fact that the quality of our lives is most important. Because players and their supporting physicians are speaking up, the NFL is taking players’ safety more seriously now, recognizing that an all-out “balls to the wall” 110% approach isn’t sustainable. Last year, the NFL inserted new rules to support this new yet long over due movement and focus on players short and long term safety and health.

As a matter of fact, most NFL teams now sponsor formal yoga programs for their players. My wife and I worked with the Steelers, and for many of the players, yoga gave them a mental and physical edge on the field. But what was inspiring was the way some players began to see yoga as a way to live a longer, healthier life—as a lifestyle.

This year, on the Super Bowl field, you’ll see yogis Troy Polamalu—easily regarded as the best Defensive Back in the NFL—and Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback for the Steelers. Polamalu has been practicing yoga for years, and he’s convinced that conventional weight training does more harm than good. In fact, Polamalu hasn’t tossed around dumbbells and barbells for years. Watch him on the field, and you’ll see the yoga in Polamalu’s football: he uses his intuition; he plays intensely yet appears calm at all times.

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