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4 Reasons All Athletes Need Yoga

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Molly Cain

It’s no secret around the studio that I’m a bit of a meathead and fitness junkie. I’ve been competing in all kinds of athletic events for years, I love a good challenge and my body often pays for that. In fact, after several years pushing myself hard with three triathlons, seven half marathons and near daily Camp Gladiator workouts, an old injury found its way back to me in 2013. (Yes, even five foot tall girls get basketball injuries!)

The day I found out I needed knee surgery to correct the issue, I hopped on the Google machine and sought out an alternative workout to tide me over. Because of course I couldn’t stand the idea of being still for any amount of time.

First, I learned the term yoga was way too loose, because there are many different types of yoga (a frustrating discovery for a complete newbie). After researching, I found one that was commonly referred to as “athlete’s yoga.” It was called Baptiste Yoga, and everything I read sounded perfect for me.

That’s when I stumbled onto YogaSport, the only Baptiste-certified studio in Dallas.

Despite the description, I still held onto the stereotype that yoga was for wimps. That they spent all their time bending around, flipping their legs over their heads, stretching and just generally getting zen. In my mind, it was a good temporary fix for an injury – then I’d quit when my knee was functioning again.

It’s been almost two years since then. And I’m so deeply in love with yoga (and the physical and mental benefits that come with it) that I’m now also an instructor, having recently graduated from YogaSport Yoga School under the great Angela Wagner. I’m also an assistant at the studio, helping students get the most out of their workouts when they come in to practice.

So, why have I stuck with it? Why do I swear by it? Because I’m an athlete.

Here are four reasons why you, as an athlete, should try it too.

Get the kinks out. A lot of athletes suffer from one-dimensionality. Many people find what they like then they stick to it, like running, lifting, or wasting your life away on the elliptical (please don’t do that). Yoga, however, works your full body, especially Baptiste Yoga. You’ll most certainly get a workout (up to 800 calories burned in one class, in fact), but in the process you’ll become more flexible. Your tired hammies, sore shoulders or tweaked back are no match for the healthy combination of a warm room and poses that seem to know exactly where you ache. You’ll walk away ready for your next event.

Get breathy. If you practice a couple times a week, you will literally become a master at breath in a matter of months. No really, I’m serious. And I invite you to tell me which athletic event would NOT benefit from that. Runners, run farther. Meatheads, lift heavier. Camp Gladiators, take your cross-functional fitness to the next level. All because of your breath. It’s the first thing you learn when you come to our studio. The ujayi breath not only warms your body and your muscles, it ignites something within you and you will twist more, balance better, pull off handstands and maybe even lift a car off of someone. You never know.

Get stronger. Do you know what a chatarunga is? The other day I think we did 90 billion in class (I’m exaggerating just a bit). If you come to our studio, you’ll know it immediately. It’s a low push-up, with your elbows at a 90-degree angle. It’s the pose just before coming to Upward Facing Dog. A chatarunga is tough, but it’s a gift to your arms. I dare you to attend class regularly and not have sculpted, strong triceps and a stronger core from just that one single pose. And who doesn’t want killer triceps and a stronger core? Yep, thought so.

And good news, there are 52 other poses in Baptiste yoga, so wrap your mind and future sexy body around that!

Get your head straight. So I’ve hailed the physical benefits of Baptiste yoga, but what really makes this practice special is what it does for you mentally. While potent in the strength department, this particular type of yoga will tackle your head like nothing else can. That is, if you’re open to it. Baron Baptiste designed this practice to empower you with greater focus, mediation skills and active self-inquiry. And there’s not an athlete alive that won’t benefit from harnessing that kind of internal power. Yoga requires discipline and builds wisdom, by pushing you into challenging poses and encouraging you to talk yourself into staying there. Or heck, just trying it.

Truly, it was hard to come up with a list of four benefits to Baptiste Yoga. It’s made me a better, more winning, athlete. It’s changed me emotionally. And it’s given me a space to push myself without ever feeling the need to compete. What a gift.

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Molly has been practicing at YogaSport for almost two years. After studying under Angela Wagner, she now teaches corporate yoga classes and assists at the Studio. By day, she’s an entrepreneur and regularly contributes a leadership column on Forbes. 

Team Member Spotlight – Nicole Esquino

Name: Nicole EsquinoNE

Nickname: Coco

Hometown: Carthage, TX (East Texas)

Day Job: Second grade math teacher for Dallas ISD in Oak Cliff.

How long have you have been practicing at YS? A little over a year.

What days/times do you work at YS? I lead the Energy Exchange team and am at the studio on Mondays 8-10pm. I also work from home helping behind-the-scenes for several hours during the week.

Family/Pets: Phoenix (chihuahua/miniature pinscher).

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Furthest city traveled to: Ocho Rios, Jamaica for my sisters wedding.

Spill – What’s your guilty pleasure? Ice cream (see below)

Favorite ice cream flavor: Peanut butter with chocolate and peanut butter fudge drizzled on top with crushed up pieces of Reese’s peanut butter cup mixed in (Yum! Slight addiction…).

Favorite book: Currently… Divergent (this changes frequently)

Who inspires you the most and why? My mom. She’s the most selfless and dedicated person I know. (Also my biggest fan!)

When did you start practicing yoga and why? Several years ago to improve flexibility, but over time it has become a necessity for health and sanity.

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Why do you still practice yoga? See above.

What is one thing we don’t know about you that would surprise us? I have a 13 year old stepson.

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Team Spotlight – Christopher Roberson

Name: Christopher Roberson539989_301239483283467_705019493_n

Hometown: I was born in Corpus Christi. When I was about 14, my family moved to Dripping Springs, just outside of Austin.

Day Job: I am the creative director at a Dallas tech company called Ziosk. We create 7″ touch-screen tablets that are placed at tables in casual dining restaurants across the country. I help create the user experience, and art-direct our company’s designers.

How long have you have been practicing at YS? I began practicing at YogaSport in August of 2010. I walked in on a whim, and almost immediately signed up for Teacher training under Angela Wagner.

When do you assist? I assist Wednesdays at 6:30pm.

Family: My parents live out in the country just outside of Johnson City, Texas. My mother goes through a lot of cats, and says that coyotes keep carrying them away. My brother and his family live in San Marcos. I have a beautiful husband named Robby, and together we have three terrible dogs who I love dearly…no matter how many plants they eat, or how many holes they dig under the fence.

552814_3199343454830_1253393996_nFavorite Guilty Pleasure: Chipotle. Seriously. I just did a search on my online bank statement, and it turns out I have eaten at Chipotle 47 times since January 1st. As I write this it is March 17th. In fact, I am thinking about a burrito right now.

Favorite Ice Cream: Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate. I wish Chipotle made ice cream. 🙂

Favorite Book: Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

Why did you start practicing yoga? My roommate’s girlfriend was a yoga instructor. I went to her class on a whim and was hooked.400153_256817004385434_741315917_n

Who inspires you the most and why? My parents inspire me more than anyone. They have been a wonderful foundation for me my entire life and have always tried to encourage me to be my best. They have a wonderful life together, and I have a great deal of respect for how comfortable they are in their own skin. They live life to the fullest and always have a great time. Plus, I get my loud voice, and fiery energy from them both… I wouldn’t be me without that!

Why do you still practice? Why do you assist? I practice because yoga is the one thing I have found that keeps me centered. It is so easy for me to let my passion get the best of me, and my practice is a constant reminder that I can dedicate myself to something, love it, and share it with others. I assist and teach because it gives me the opportunity to help others grow their practice and find strength within themselves.

What is one thing we don’t know about you that would surprise us? Please see “Favorite Guilty Pleasure” as described above. 47 times. Seriously. It surprises me, and I ate those burritos.

Team Spotlight – Jenny Mizutowicz

Name: Jenny Mizutowicz

Hometown: I was born in Trenton, NJ but grew up in Cedar Hill, TX.

Day Job: Manager of Marketing & Research at the Richardson Economic Development Partnership. Nobody knows what this means, so I always follow with, “I recruit companies to Richardson.”

How long have you have been practicing at YS? I started practicing in February 2009, took the 200 Hour Teacher Training the summer of 2012, and began assisting October 2012.

When do you assist? I assist Mondays at 6:30 p.m.

Family: My parents Ted and Wanda live in the house I grew up in in Cedar Hill – just 15 minutes south of Dallas. I also have a sister, Vanessa, who lives in Austin.

Favorite Guilty Pleasure: Dairy Queen Blizzards. I struggle to resist stopping at Dairy Queen on my road trips to and from Austin.

Favorite Ice Cream: I had coffee ice cream at a little shop called Jeni’s in Columbus, OH last February and haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

Favorite Book: I love reading everything from dark non-fiction to bubbly chick lit. My favorite books are probably the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Right now I’m reading a classic- The Great Gatsby.

Who inspires you the most and why? Smart, strong women with successful careers. I admire women who have achieved success in their professional lives while simultaneously balancing a family life. My mother is one of these women, and I have looked up to her since I was a little girl.

Why did you start practicing yoga? A friend dragged me to yoga with her in 2008 to get into shape for Spring Break. She told me it was a great workout. She was right.

Why do you still practice? Aside from the tremendous physical benefits, yoga has transformed the way I approach life. It teaches me to accept people and things as they are and helps me peacefully get through obstacles. The past year or so I have learned to practice yoga “off the mat”.

Why do you assist? I love BEING assisted, so this is my way to give back to the assistants who have graced me with their loving hands in the past. I also consider it a privilege to be part of this supportive, inspiring YogaSport community.

What is one thing we don’t know about you that would surprise us? My parents came to the United States from Poland. I was raised largely by my Polish grandparents and nannies, and therefore grew up speaking Polish before I learned English. I have unfortunately forgotten a lot over the years.