Olympic Special: Pro Athletes Who Do Yoga

With the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games in full swing, we’re taking a look at some pro athletes – from football players to tennis champs – who include yoga in their health and fitness regimes:

During his pro career, former Major League Baseball player Eric Orlando Young Sr. counted on yoga for his off-season conditioning. A second San Diego Padres player, former left fielder Ryan Klesko, is quoted as saying, “It’s been good for my hips.”

Footballers like Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers also benefit from hot yoga. According to Rodgers, the postures help boost his flexibility and mental discipline, improve his sleep patterns and increase his energy levels. Meantime, football safety Tony Parrish used Bikram Yoga to recover from a broken ankle while former Washington Redskins defensive lineman Jason Hatcher used his three-to-five-times-a-week practice to loosen sore muscles and maintain flexibility in his knees.

On the hardwood, NBA powerhouses like Kevin Garnett, Emeka Okafor and Bruce Bowen are tried-and-true yogis, following in the footsteps of NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was one of the first pro athletes to cross-train with Bikram Yoga. In fact, Abdul-Jabbar credits the yoga 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.”

When she’s not playing tennis, superstar Serena Williams says she likes to “do yoga and Pilates … I don’t like to run!” So, too, does Canadian cross-country skier Chandra Crawford, who claims her practice sharpens her focus by keeping her nerves at bay. Another slope star, U.S. freestyle skier Shannon Deanne Bahrke, uses yoga to improve her overall strength, while world-record-holding swimmer Ariana Kukors started her Bikram Yoga practice way back in high school!

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