Minnesota has added an unusual wrinkle to its offseason conditioning drills.
According to ESPN.com, Gophers strength coach Eric Klein has added a weekly team-wide yoga session into its summer conditioning program, and it takes place on turf of team’s indoor facility. The players weren’t so sure about it at first and thought it provided a break from the usual demanding morning workouts, but quickly learned about its benefits.
“I didn’t really buy into it at first,” said senior safety Cedric Thompson. “(Friends) had tried to get me to do it before, and I’d always said no.”
Added senior offensive lineman Tommy Olson: “We were all kind of excited because we thought we’d be getting out of conditioning and running, but it turns out that in yoga, you’ve actually got to do some tough poses and you’ve got to have some strength, too.”
The idea arose when head coach Jerry Kill read an article about the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks using yoga. Kill pitched it to Klein, who was familiar with yoga due to his brother’s interest in the practice. After approaching Christine Ojala, the owner of a local yoga studio in Minneapolis, Klein developed a regimen for the team.
“I believe in it,” Klein said. “I tell our guys that you have to stress the body to make it better. But even more importantly, you have to focus on your recovery to allow us to stress it again the next day.”
Kill and Klein are focusing on increasing the overall flexibility of the team and Ojala told ESPN that she believes the classes can actually help reduce injuries for the players.
“They need to recuperate from being worked to the max. Yoga is one of the best methods for restoring the mind, body, and spirit to their essential, balanced and strong states of being,” Ojala said.
Some of the larger players on the team struggled with some of the poses at first, but the players have grown to enjoy and look forward to the weekly sessions.
“We’re all just trying to get more flexible as a team because we work out so much, and we’re trying to relax our minds, too,” Olson said. “It’s a really good way to recuperate from a long week.”
Klein said the session will continue throughout the offseason and could roll over into the season if the players want.
For more Minnesota news, GopherIllustrated.com.
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