Bearcats Participate in Sports Yoga Session at Cone Field House

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University football team, in an effort to help keep its student-athletes strong, flexible and fit, recently participated in a sports yoga session. About 50 members of the team attended the event at Cone Field House on Monday, Sept. 20. Sports yoga provided a quality addition to the team’s traditional training regimens of weight and cardio workouts.

Yoga instructors Susan Benner and Jack Coelho from The Fitness Center at Wellspring in Woodburn, Ore., taught the one-hour course designed specifically for collegiate athletes and coaches. Athletes were led through a variety of stretches, positions and resting techniques.

This class evolved from the relationship Bearcat football has with its team physicians, Dr. David Thorsett and Dr. Dan Schweigert. Both physicians work with the Silverton Hospital Network’s Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Program.

Sports yoga incorporates yoga poses designed to cultivate total body integration with a focus on core activation, balance, stability and flexibility. It balances the body through a variety of movements done in different planes and angles to challenge the body in different ways. These factors increase efficiency of movement and help prevent injury.

When asked how the athletes responded to the training session, Dr Schweigert said that he was very impressed at how focused on the yoga itself and how engaged they were with the instructors during the session. “It was a great event and was very well received by the athletes, trainers and coaches in attendance.”

Yoga’s basic mindfulness and meditation skills help athletes develop intrinsic body awareness. Awareness of the choices in each moment, both mental and physical, brings focus to the athlete’s action on the field, as well. A series of movements and mental tools will be incorporated into traditional training sessions all season.

“It was a challenging workout that really utilized the entire body.” said Mark Majeski, Willamette director of athletics. Majeski participated in the sports yoga session, along with the student-athletes and Offensive Coordinator Glen Fowles.

“Our athletes gained an understanding of how yoga can be a part of an athlete’s overall strength and conditioning program,” Majeski said.

The Bearcats reach above their heads during one pose at the sports yoga session on Monday.

The Bearcats reach above their heads during one pose at the sports yoga session on Monday.

Willamette football players worked to complete several yoga poses during the sports yoga session.

Willamette football players worked to complete several yoga poses during the sports yoga session.

Athletes keep their legs raised a bit above the floor for various lengths of time during the sports yoga class.

Athletes keep their legs raised a bit above the floor for various lengths of time during the sports yoga class.