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The Orion

Yoga proving to be the newest hit for Chico State athletics

Jalen McFerren, Chico State basketball player, poses in the Warrior I stance. The Warrior I stance strengthens feet, hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus and builds core power. Photo credit: Carly Maxstone

“When I was a freshman, I remember thinking, ‘What the heck am I doing?’ I didn’t understand why we were doing yoga,” said Corey Silverstrom, one of Chico State men’s basketball team’s leading scorers last season, about hearing that he would be doing yoga with the team.

But Silverstrom, a three time Second Team All-CCAA selection, is now one of its biggest supporters.

Yoga has recently been introduced as a way for athletes on campus to prevent injury, improve stamina and increase flexibility.

Coach Greg Clink got the men’s basketball team involved in taking yoga classes over five years ago.

“I had started doing yoga and I saw how it could benefit our player’s flexibility, strength and balance,” Clink said.

Clink contacted Rex Stromness, a Chico State Kinesiology professor and co-owner of the Yoga Center in Chico.

“Coach Clink asked me to come teach yoga to the men’s basketball team twice a week for seven weeks before the season started. We’ve been doing it ever since,” Stromness said. “The Chico State baseball team, track team and golf team have also taken classes from me.”

According to Sports Illustrated and World Yoga News, college and professional athletes have been using yoga to increase their athletic ability. World Yoga news notes several professional athletes who participate in yoga include LeBron James, Tom Brady, Russel Wilson and Hope Solo. The results of this practice have been substantial.

“I feel more limber, I play better, I’ve noticed that I’m faster and my stamina is up,” Silverstrom said.

“Yoga mainly helped me with sustainability as far as staying away from being hurt and also mentally. Just being focused and in the moment,” said Jalen McFerren, Chico State basketball player. “Rex did a great job at pushing the point that when you walk in to just lock into what you’re doing and translate that onto the court by focusing in on each drill and each play.”

Jalen McFerren, Chico State basketball player, poses in the Warrior II stance. The Warrior II stance helps with legs, gluteus, hips, core muscles, chest, shoulders and arms as well as endurance. Photo credit: Carly Maxstone

“Doing yoga prepares your body to endure weight training, practice and games during the season,” said Dan Beavers, Chico State baseball player. “Staying healthy is vital to the success of the team, so the goal of using yoga is to prevent injuries and help with recovery.”

Just like anything, one has to stay consistent with yoga to receive the benefits of it.

“When I’m consistently doing yoga, my back is pain-free,” said Annie Weiss, Chico State softball player.

Silverstrom lamented about only having yoga during preseason due to the fact that once you stop doing yoga, you lose what you have gained and have to start all over again the next season.

From injury prevention to injury rehabilitation, yoga has a multitude of uses.

Weiss injured her rotator cuff last January and was in a sling for almost two months.

“When I got out of the sling and started to move my arm again, my back was so tight from not being able to move it,” Weiss said. “Once I was able to get back into yoga, I swear it helped heal my arm. I would go to one class and my arm would feel amazing.”

Sabrina Fairchild, Chico State kinesiology professor, explained how yoga helps not only the body but the mind.

“Through the process of yoga, it really helps to make you relax. It’s what we call the parasympathetic system,” Fairchild said. “When you’re relaxed, your digestion improves, your muscles let go of their tension and your mind relaxes.”

The parasympathetic system is the part of your nervous system responsible for functions of the body at rest. It handles everything from digestion to relaxation, essentially everything that your body should do without you telling it to.

“Similar to yoga, baseball requires you to be in the moment. Yoga teaches you to calm yourself down and focus,” said Andrew Schantz, another member of the Chico State pitching staff, focuses on the mental aspect and the possible gains from yoga.

“I think the mental part of it was sometimes bigger than the physical,” McFerren said.

Yoga classes are held weekly at the Wildcat Recreation Center and are free for Chico State students. In addition, Chico State offers semester long yoga classes including an introductory yoga course, KINE 169, as well as intermediate yoga, KINE 169B.

Courtney Chapman can be reached at [email protected] or @courtneychaps on Twitter.

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