Baseball and Yoga?!

By October 30, 2012

OK, I admit it — I’m a HUGE fan of baseball.  Living in Oakland and working in SF allows me to support both local teams while fantasizing about a repeat of the ’89 Bay Bridge Series.  In the meantime, this year’s playoffs and the Giants run at the World Championship have been so much fun.  You might be wondering what baseball and yoga have in common.  Here are a few similarities that come to mind: yoga and baseball both demand focus, dedication, continuous practice, and a burning desire to improve.  We recognize that yoga also requires patience and santosa, acceptance and gratitude, which are qualities may seem at odds with the competitive nature of Major League Baseball.  But not when you stop to think about how much adversity baseball players face  – losing games, being injured, getting traded to another team, or sent down to the minor leagues.  Seeking and maintaining balance helps baseball players and yoga practitioners alike get through life’s ups and downs.  To me right now, no one embodies that approach better than Barry Zito, a yoga student and professional baseball player I have adored since he came up with the Oakland A’s in 2000.  Since signing an enormous contract with the Giants in 2006, he has disappointed fans, ownership and teammates alike with lackluster play.  But somewhere along the line in 2012, he regained his balance, and his performance this postseason was nothing short of amazing and inspiring.  Namaste, Barry, and to baseball fans everywhere.  Go Giants!

About Sarah Harvey

SARAH HARVEY is the Advanced Studies & Teacher Training Program Coordinator at IYISF, herself a graduate of the program in 2004. Sarah received her Introductory 2 level certification in 2008 and has been teaching in the East Bay ever since. You can find her at IYISF on Tuesday and Friday afternoons.

A Routine

By October 28, 2012

I’m a creature of habit, so I need to set up some kind of routine, even for things that are important to me. If I don’t, I can feel things slipping by the wayside. Yoga is important to me, both from a physical and mental health standpoint, and yet, I need to set up a routine to practice. Otherwise, I can feel myself going backwards, in more ways than one 🙂

Committing to go to a set of classes during the week definitely helps. But what about the days you don’t go to class? I think it is very important to set aside some time, no matter how short, every day, to do something. As I mentioned in a previous post, my wife does an arm balance every morning before she goes to work–it may seem like a trivial amount, but I know it is very important for her well-being. It is also important to be creative depending on personal preference. So here’s my routine:

As I already mentioned, setting up a class schedule and committing to it is the first step. My class days are Wednesday and Saturday with David Sirgany and Sunday with Anne Saliou. My classes dictate the structure of the remaining days of the week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, I do a several-mile run at 6am. Before hitting the road, I do several standing poses (it’s a great way to stretch for running, and I can feel AND hear my spine waking up), and make sure my hamstrings are ready to go. I run to Kezar Stadium, then try to do my best sirsasana on the track (the photo to the left shows I have a ways to go!)–the Kezar track is a great surface for asanas! I’ll try to incorporate an additional pose or two on the track after sirsasana, parivrtta janu sirsasana, for example, then run back home. I’ll finish up at home with a cooling pose, salamba sarvangasana or viparita karani for example, then end with a deliberate savasana.

So note that we’re not talking about a lot of poses, but for me, it’s important to integrate running with yoga. It’s about finding what works for you. I had to stop running for almost a year because of a foot/nerve injury, but I’ve noticed that, upon restarting, my running has become more structurally sound as I’ve advanced in my yoga practice. So it’s been all good.

Sometimes, you’ll need to deviate from a routine, but having one definitely puts your priorities in place (“Nope, can’t attend that meeting, got something else already planned”). But when you deviate, it’s good to have an alternate plan a priori. On a certain Wednesday, I committed to be driver for my son’s soccer team, so I had to miss David’s class. I made a concerted effort to practice on my own that morning, and though it wasn’t a complete substitute for the instruction, I made it work as best I could. In the coming winter months, there will be rainy days when it is too wet to practice sirsasana on the Kezar track, so I’ve already experimented with doing inversions after completing my run in preparation–quite sweaty, but still felt great!

I encourage you to find your own yoga routine. For me, it has enriched my life, made me less grouchy :-), and made me much happier. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?


About Chuck Han

CHUCK HAN is a long-time student of the Institute, and is also our stellar volunteer webmaster!