The stigma was once that yoga was reserved for hippies and yuppies, and that real athletes would rather quit their sports than be caught in an extended triangle pose. That’s not the case anymore. In fact, many athletes are turning to yoga for improved flexibility, relaxation, and a sounder mind-body connection. Some notable yogis include the Seattle Seahawks (who implemented yoga into their pre-season football camp back in 2013), UFC fighters like Diego Sanchez and Ian McCall, NBA superstar LeBron James, and the entire New Zealand rugby team.
“A lot of baseball players have gotten into yoga over the past few years,” says minor league baseball pitcher Marcus Walden. “Personally, I enjoy hot yoga because I’m sweating like crazy and it allows me to go into stretches better.”
Walden, a right-handed hurler for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, says strength is another byproduct of the practice, and that’s a point people often overlook.
“While a lot of people think yoga is just about stretching … it’s also good for the legs; just sit into a warrior two pose for 45 seconds to a minute and you’ll see what I mean,” he adds.
If there weren’t benefits, Walden simply wouldn’t do it. His training regimen is intense and structured to extract the maximum output from his body.
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“When people train with me they’re surprised by the little rest we take and how much endurance is involved,” he says. “I’m training two times per day about five to six days per week. Sundays are reserved for an hour of stretching at 6:30 a.m. It’s hard for me to stay home and take a day off because I know someone else isn’t. I know that someone else is working every day.”
To sustain that rigorous training schedule, he requires the right sports supplement.
“I started ordering P4 [workout supplements] about four years ago,” Walden recalls. “I take the Pre Game Formula now, although I used to switch on and off with another preworkout supplement to keep my body from adapting to either formula. Both products were NSF [Certified for Sport], but when I noticed that the other brand didn’t have the NSF logo on there one day, I decided to stop using it. Now, P4 [Pre Workout Formula] is pretty much the only product I take. I’ll start to drink it about 30 minutes before I train and will end up finishing it maybe four or five minutes after I use the foam roller pre-workout.”
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What Walden accomplishes on a given day the gym isn’t decided by a personal trainer or workout app; he decides on a whim. “How and what I train depends on how my body is feeling,” he explains. “I’m pretty good about pushing the people I workout with to their limits, and that pushes me to see how far I can go every day.”