Greenville YMCA offering yoga courses to county athletes

Published 4:41 pm Friday, May 23, 2014

While many student athletes across Butler County will spend the coming months virtually married to the weight room, one YMCA instructor is challenging those athletes with a rather different set of exercises.

Greenville YMCA yoga instructor Jeanie Cobb is offering a summer yoga course for athletes beginning on June 2 on Mondays and Wednesdays starting at 9:30 a.m.

Individual assessments with parents will also be offered, giving parents tools to take home to work on a daily basis with athletes.  The class is being offered for students who participate in any sport.

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Calling yoga a useful tool for athletes is no stretch of the imagination—colleges and pro football teams have been incorporating yoga into their training regimens for years.

Most notably of all, each player for the Super Bowl XLVIII Champion Seattle Seahawks is mandated to practice yoga and meditate (February’s 43-8 landslide victory over the Denver Broncos would indicate that whatever they’re doing is clearly working).

But Cobb says that yoga provides innumerable benefits to high-school level athletes that go well beyond increased flexibility.

“It improves our self-esteem, because we are stronger, and it teaches us how to have a dialog with our bodies,” Cobb said.

“It helps with endurance and breath control—we in the Western world generally only use the top fourth of our lungs to breathe, and yoga teaches us to use all of the lobes to fill the lungs.

“Breath is our life force.  We came into the world with an inhalation, and we’ll leave the world with an exhalation.”

Cobb said that she has wanted to do a class with athletes for some time, and she visited local schools in the county and spoke with coaches about the prospect of offering a supplementary course in addition to more traditional summer workouts.

She has gotten a favorable response from most coaches, including a baseball coach at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College in Andalusia, who has already sent a number of baseball players her way for lessons.

One such athlete is Fort Dale Academy graduate Chase Whiddon, who decided to give the new approach a shot.

“I went to work out with the LBW baseball team a month ago and the coach said that he noticed my chest was tight and it was constricting my swing, and he recommended yoga,” Whiddon said.

“I’ve only been twice so far, but from only those two sessions I can already tell I’m loosening up some.  And it also makes me feel great afterwards.”

Cobb also plans to teach athletes how to use a myofascial roller, which breaks up fascia (a layer of fibrous tissue that surrounds muscles, allowing for movement) in the body.

“It has to be broken up on a daily basis, or that’s where we lose our flexibility,” Cobb added.

“And if it’s not, it can keep thickening until it solidifies like concrete.  The myofascial roller is really good to use post-game when you have a lot of soreness with shin splints or hamstrings.”

Several misconceptions about yoga made it difficult for Cobb to introduce to potential students in Greenville at first, but things are slowly changing for the better.

Most participants only need one session before being convinced.

And although explaining yoga in layman’s terms is a tall order, Cobb sought to quote B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world, for her pitch.

“Yoga cannot be completely explained—it has to be experienced.”

Those interested in sponsoring or helping an athlete participate are asked to do so through the Greenville YMCA Partners with Youth Scholarship.

For more information, contact the Greenville YMCA at (334) 382-0550.