Former NFL Yoga Instructor Shares Three Yoga Moves Everybody Should Do

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter
  • Gwen Lawrence worked with the New York Giants for a decade under former head coach Tom Coughlin.
  • She emphasizes six facets in her teaching: mental toughness, strength, flexibility, balance, focus and breathing.
  • Lawrence recommends three moves that everybody can do to guard against wear-and-tear on knees.

NFL players have brought attention to yoga as a technique they use to prepare for games and prevent injuries — and the yoga instructor behind many players’ appreciation of the practice, Gwen Lawrence, says everyone should try three specific yoga moves to improve health.

Lawrence founded her business Power Yoga For Sports in 2003 and has worked with college and pro athletes for years. She worked with the New York Giants for a decade under former head coach Tom Coughlin, and she is currently helping the New York Knicks and New York Mets stretch their potential, she told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Lawrence helps athletes improve their flexibility and balance and often recommends specific poses for players with different positions. But everyone can benefit from stretches that focus on the hips, she told TheDCNF.

“I see a lot of knee issues for good reason,” Lawrence said. “It’s a very complicated and vulnerable joint. A lot of care needs to be taken … To sideline this, studies show that more open, flexible and supple hips are going to put less strain or wear-and-tear on your knees.”

Below are three beginner moves that Lawrence recommends that can be performed without a mat.

“Beginners can do them right away and find a lot of success in them,” she said. “I recommend three- to five-minute holds for each one … You see progress right on the spot.”

1. WATCH: PIGEON POSE

In the pigeon pose, the individual starts on all fours and brings the right knee forward with the ankle resting near the left hip. With the left leg straight back, straighten the back and point the left foot. Variations of the move include bending forward or resting hands on a block for a better stretch.

“Pigeon opens the deep glute to create a better range of motion and ultimately release pressure on knees,” Lawrence said. The pose is commonly believed to reduce sciatic nerve pain.

2. WATCH: SUPPORTED FISH

To do the fish pose, find a folded blanket to use as a support under the neck. Start by lying face-up with arms resting along the body. Arch the back by pressing forearms and elbows into the floor. Shoulders and upper back should be off the floor, with the crown of the head barely touching the ground.

“Supported fish creates space in the vertebrae, and opens the anterior spine, chest and shoulders,” Lawrence said. “It reverses the issues of ‘tech neck’ and poor posture and increases lung capacity for more oxygenation.”

3. WATCH: FROG POSE

To do the hip-opening frog pose, start on all fours and walk your knees as far apart as they will allow comfortably. The insides of the feet should touch the floor. Inhale, and elongate the spine during exhale. Try to lower hips as close to the floor as possible and press elbows to the ground.

“Frog is the kingpin of mental toughness,” Lawrence said. “I hold this pose for a minimum of five minutes to open the groin and inner thighs, release the hips and hone focus and breathing.” (RELATED: NFL Players Are Unrolling Their Yoga Mats To Avoid Injuries, Become Better Athletes)

Lawrence posts yoga workout videos on her YouTube channel. She is also the author of “Body Sculpting with Yoga” and will publish a book for teachers of power yoga for sports in November.

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