The ties between yoga and footballWritten by Jennifer S. White | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Football. This one word describes my family’s weekends for months. These two syllables also describe the atmosphere of countless other American households. I never liked football until my husband took the time to help me better understand the game while watching the Super Bowl more than a decade ago. Now football is part of my anxiously awaited fall repertoire and, believe it or not, football easily relates to yoga.
Football plays are often complex and intricate, a single play taking significant preparation. And then it’s over. Yoga poses are much the same. One pose can take years to master. And then you’ve done it. Your goal is met. There’s an ironic letdown that accompanies this glorious feeling of triumph.
As yogis we can forget to enjoy the journey it takes to get to a single, successful posture, and, as football fans, it’s challenging to enjoy watching beautifully executed plays if the desired goals are not achieved.
Often we fail to remember that many less complicated postures are the physical and mental preparations for more challenging poses. Similarly, some football plays are only called as preparations for other, more rewarding plays.
Yet another way a football play is like yoga is the all-important concept of team. It takes several working parts, or players in the case of the game, to create a properly working play. These parts can be readily equated to our bodies. It takes our various body parts working as a team to create a single, beautiful pose. To examine these unorthodox though apt connections between football and yoga, we’ll take a deeper look into one of yoga’s most celebrated plays — I mean poses — fierce pose.
In English, “Utkatasana” is typically translated from Sanskrit as “chair pose.” However, “powerful” or “fierce pose” is a more accurate interpretation.
We’ll use this less common translation of fierce pose, not only because it better relates to football, but also because this name helps get the practitioner into the mindset required for this pose.
Fierce pose has many variations. Some (for example, one-legged and twisted chair poses) are seriously challenging, or fierce. These poses are typically used as prep poses for other, more complex ones. Twisted chair pose, for instance, has exactly the same architecture as the arm balance side crow pose. Thus, it’s important to intrinsically understand side crow’s twisted sister, a variation of fierce pose. We’ll start by tackling a more simplified version.
To begin, stand with your feet parallel and hip-distance apart. Sit powerfully into your imaginary chair. Feel the length in your lower back and strength in your lower abdomen as you slightly tuck your tailbone and release it toward the floor.
Take your thighs as close to parallel to the floor as possible, keeping your thigh bones parallel to
Don’t allow your toes or knees to wander out. If you sit deeply enough into this pose your knees will jut slightly past your feet and your core will lunge forward a little, but try to keep your core upright as much as possible. Imagine helium in the heart, lifting your upper spine skyward, shoulder blades sliding down away from your ears and firming into your heart center.
Maintaining length in your lower spine and engagement in your core (and with breath still flowing evenly in and out of your nose), extend your arms overhead shoulder-width apart with palms facing each other, pinky sides of your arms rotating slightly in to activate the triceps.
Allow your front ribs to feel knit together in the front, but continue to open your shoulders by pulling your arms back further; possibly alongside your ears or maybe even behind them.
Keep your chin parallel to the floor and find balance in your feet. For a moment, pick up your toes and make sure that you aren’t sitting too heavily into the balls of your feet. Breathe deeply as you hold your fierce pose for five to eight breaths.
On your final inhalation, straighten your legs and exhale as you return your arms to your sides. Feel the personal power you’ve tapped into by sitting in fierce pose.
With another glorious fall weekend of football watching ahead, take the time to truly enjoy the game (even if your favorite quarterback gets sacked), and also take a moment to tap into your own personal power with fierce pose.
Jennifer White is a certified yoga instructor. Email her at email@example.com.