Lee's baseball team does the boat pose
In preparation for the spring 2017 season, Lee University’s baseball team took a unique step to gaining even more improvement: yoga.
As a part of a rigorous post-Christmas training program to get his players back into shape, Lee University's head baseball coach, Mark Brew, partnered with local yogi, Raj Yogimitra, in order to help level-up his team’s mental and physical toughness.
“We believe in what [Raj] does for the body and flexibility,” Brew said. “We have a saying that we have to get comfortable being uncomfortable, and we feel like the activity of yoga is an uncomfortable activity.”
Though Brew introduced the idea to put his men through pretzel positions, his team was quick to see the benefits of yoga.
“I do believe the work that we put in during our yoga sessions has translated to our on field performances,” Lee University senior, Zack Zyburt said.
Zyburt also mentioned that a lot of his fellow teammates have improved in their range of motion and flexibility in addition to improving on-field performance.
According to Yogimitra, yoga is not limited to only improving physical performance, but stretches and tests the mind as well. He went on to explain that yoga’s emphasis on mental toughness and concentration is what separates it from other intense workouts.
“There will always be sports workouts where you have to push yourself to the limit,” Yogimitra said. “No matter how demanding sports are in terms of strength, a little bit of focus always helps athletes in getting the best out of them.”
Although Yogimitra’s sessions with the baseball team were serious mental and physical workouts occurring at 6 a.m., Brew and his players managed to keep the atmosphere light.
“We did extremely well picking one another up and giving a sense of trust and dedication to what we were doing each morning,” Zyburt said.
“I don’t think [yoga] is something that they desired to go do,” said Brew, laughing. “But once they realized the benefits, then it got a little bit better. “
After completing Yogimitra’s yoga sessions, Coach Brew has noticed both on- and off-the-field improvements. According to Brew, Yogimitra helped utilize their morning workouts in emphasizing flexibility and core strength and helped them be better athletes.
Durability was extremely important for a grueling, 50+ game season that began on February 4.
Because the regular season has already started for the baseball team, the NCAA’s limitations on hours that athletes can spend working out does not allow Coach Brew and his team to continue their mandatory sessions with Yogimitra for the time being.
However, given the opportunity and the experience that Zyburt has had with yoga, he only has good rapport for Yogimitra.
“Given time during the week I would definitely continue to go to his classes,”Zyburt said.
As a result, Lee University’s baseball team has begun the season with a 2-1 record and has noticed increased team chemistry and on the field improvements because of their experience with Yogimitra.
“Raj is an awesome person and instructor, and he truly enjoys yoga, and he does a great job during the class,” said Zyburt.