When the Oakland Athletics break camp on Wednesday, each of the player will be making space in his carry-on bag for a DVD. Just in case you are wondering, this is no where near a memento of the Cactus League. Instead, the DVD contain a baseball-specific program of yoga stretches put together by Phoenix-based yoga instructor, Katherine Roberts.
“It’s not your mom’s yoga. It’s not typical for baseball teams to go in heavily for yoga although some players do it on their own,” stated Katherine, who is already in her third spring training leading the A’s in yoga stretches. According to her, there are a handful of teams that have included yoga into their pregame stretching program. Many of the A’s players also swear by it.
“Yoga is awesome. And the way Katherine helps us use it is great. As a catcher, I have to squat and get into all kinds of compromising positions during a game. With yoga, it’s easier for me to get loose and to stay flexible. I tried it a little three years ago when I was with Tampa Bay, but after doing it here, it’s something I do all the time,” explained catcher Stephen Vogt. Even Bob Melvin, the manager, is a fan of the practice. Last year, he was an active participant. “I would be out there now,” he added, except for his unfortunate ongoing back pain.
According to reliever Sean Doolittle, the A’s use of yoga over the past few seasons was one of the reasons that made his move from hitter to pitcher go as flawlessly and quickly as it did. “I love it all; it’s all about getting to know your body. I probably don’t need the DVD, though. Katherine’s been with us for a few years now, and I know a lot of the exercises by heart,” he said. In fact, he also mentioned that during the off season, he still does practices yoga a couple of days in a week. Once the season restarts, he shifts back into gear and increases the practice to most days during the baseball calendar year.
“These guys are athletes; they don’t need to do everything yoga. I’m one of the spokes in the wheel for them to getting their conditioning right. I believe that they are looser and more flexible because of what we do, and I think it cuts down on injuries. My object in working with them is to create as much body symmetry and balance as I can. When you look at pitchers, throwing a baseball the way they do is one of the least symmetrical things an athlete can do. But with the balance that they can get from yoga, they build strength,” elaborated Katherine. For the rest of the story, do check it out here.
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