NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whom many consider to be the greatest centre in basketball history, was one of the first pro athletes to cross-train with Bikram Yoga. A close friend of Bikram Choudhury, Abdul-Jabbar credits the yoga (which he started practising at age 36) with helping him to extend his career by seven years: “There is no way I could have played as long as I did without yoga. My friends and teammates think I made a deal with the devil. But it was yoga that made my training complete.”
David Beckham really bends it when he practises Bikram Yoga. Recently, the soccer star spoke out about his desire to extend his pro career well into his 40s by making Bikram Yoga a regular part of his fitness regime. Beckham was introduced to Bikram Yoga by Abdul-Jabbar, who told him how regular Bikram Yoga sessions would heal his body, relax his mind and help him “carry on playing football for years to come.”
Serena Williams says, “I love Bikram Yoga because you burn more than 600 calories in just one class. You need a lot of patience for yoga, but I love Bikram Yoga because it’s in a super-warm room, so from the moment you walk in you’re just pouring sweat. I recommend everyone try this.” Tennis players, who may become “lop-sided” from using the same muscles on just one side of their bodies over and over again, can really benefit from the “realignment” aspect of Bikram Yoga.
After American football player Tony Parrish broke his left ankle and fibula in a game against the Chicago Bears, he used Bikram Yoga to help him heal his injury … and persuaded many of his NFL teammates to take their training into the hot room, too. “The first class was hard; I’ve never been in a room so hot for so long,” he told Sports Illustrated. “We tend to bend forward on the field but never do any real backward stretching to counteract that. To get into and hold each [yoga] position works your abs. My lower back and spine have also gotten stronger and more flexible. I had abs that looked decent but weren’t strong. Now there’s strength behind them.”
Even NHL players hit the hot room. Though he headed back to hockey training camp soon after his first class at at Bikram’s Yoga Metrotown in August, Boston Bruins left winger Milan Lucic (an East Van boy) said that he would be back next summer to fit yoga into his regular workout routine. According to BYM’s blog, “Lucic is not the only professional hockey player to include yoga in his fitness routine. Teammate Tim Thomas has been practising yoga since the summer of 2007 and openly attributes his success to regular yoga practice. Other hockey players such as Mark Messier, Mark Recchi and George Laraque have all practised yoga to further amp their game.”
Any other pro athletes you know if that swear by Bikram Yoga? Are you an athlete that makes Bikram Yoga a part of your regular fitness routine? Let us know in the comments below!