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The Orion

Men’s basketball team incorporates yoga into practices

Four years ago, yoga instructor Rex Stromness introduced yoga to the Chico State men’s basketball team as a way to prevent injuries on the court. Every preseason now consists of seven weeks devoted to hour-long yoga sessions twice a week. Since then, head coach Greg Clink has seen a big improvement in the Wildcats’ game.

2014 Men's Basketball
The 2014 men's basketball team practices the uttanasana pose during a yoga session. Photo courtesy of Rex Stromness.

“It’s great for injury prevention. We see a lot less knee [and] ankle injuries because we build all those little muscles and tendons around those joints,” Clink said. “We have less muscle strains and pulls because of the flexibility, it makes us stronger.”

Stromness has practiced yoga for more than 35 years now and he believes yoga can benefit any sport, not just basketball. Professional athletes practice yoga to increase flexibility, strengthen cores and prevent injuries, he said.

“There was a little skepticism at first, but I’d have to say, they got into it once they saw the potential of it,” Stromness said.

Jalen McFerren, sophomore guard

Jalen McFerren, sophomore guard. Photo courtesy of Chico Wildcats.

What was your first impression of yoga?

At first, I didn’t take it very seriously. I didn’t think it would benefit us that much. But after a couple weeks of doing it I saw that we were way more loose with our muscles and the recovery from practices was a lot better. We were able to feel our body a lot more and have more body control over what we’re doing.

Were there any funny moments?

When someone can’t get the stretch down or they fall, lose their balance, it’s pretty funny seeing that. The coaches really get into it too. It was fun to see them out there doing yoga with us.

How have you seen yoga personally help you on the court?

Personally, the balance aspect of it helps a lot. It builds a lot of core. People don’t realize that in yoga, we do a lot of core-strengthening exercises. After lifting weights, we’ll have yoga the next day and that’ll help out with the tension in my muscles. Another key thing, it’s all mental. Slowing down your breathing helps in late games when you’re really tired. [I’ve started] doing some breathing exercises that Rex had taught us that have helped out a lot.

Are there any poses you found difficult or didn’t really like?

The head stand where you use the wall, that one was really hard for me. In [Stromness’] class last semester, I fell really hard against the wall. I never tried it again since then. My feet just fell and kicked the wall. I thought I was going to put a hole in the wall and I was like, “I’m never trying that again.”

Tanner Giddings, senior forward

Tanner Giddings, senior forward. Photo courtesy of Chico Wildcats.

Before you started doing yoga with the team, have you ever done yoga?

When I was at Fresno State, we did it. We did hot yoga when we were there, so it was a little more intense. But I’ve done yoga plenty of times, so it’s not like I didn’t know what to expect going into it.

Doing yoga with the team here at Chico State, how has your experience been?

Good. Every time we went in and did yoga, it helped my flexibility. I thought that was a good experience because [Stromness] made it easy to do that.

Do you do yoga in your own spare time?

When I have time, I like to do it. I might go to the WREC sometimes and do the class they have upstairs, but I haven’t been able to just because of my busy schedule. But, I’m up for doing yoga on my own time, that’s for sure.

Julie Ortega can be reached at [email protected] or @julieOrtega_ on Twitter.

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