yoga

Review journal – Is alt-yoga the key to sporting greatness?

FITNESS, WORK OUT

Review journal, Andy Murray does Gyrotonic for his back – while everyone from Joe Hart to Maria Sharapova has their own favourite niche form of yoga. Ryan Giggs liked his so much he put his name on it

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Maria Sharapova practising her yoga moves.

Melon. A whole melon and Gyrotonic yoga. That’s how you get #tennisbodready if you’re Andy Murray. The melon (cantaloupe) makes sense – it’s hydrating and contains vitamin C. But the yoga sounds like something somebody made up. In truth, it sort of was, by a Hungarian gymnast who created it to counter a slipped vertebral disc. But then Gyrotonic yoga, AKA dancer’s yoga, isn’t actually yoga; rather, it’s a method of movement to help with back problems.

Gyrotonic’s confection of breathing, pulleys and circular movements sits alongside classic yogic poses such as the Octopus (crossing over your legs), the Monkey (the splits) and the Cat (arched back, all fours). Yoga or not, it works for Murray who has had back problems since 2013: “Now that I have been looking after it, doing way more different types of stretching, sort of injury prevention work, my back is no issue whatsoever,” he said on Tuesday. And he’s not the only sport star practising niche forms of the ancient discipline.

Ryan Giggs: ‘Giggs Fitness’

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Ryan Giggs does it his way – with help from a friend.

Yoga has always been more popular with women. Thanks to Ryan Giggs, a man who is such a man he played in the Premier League aged 40, while managing a tricky hamstring, yoga found a new home among the lads. The key, according to Giggs, is to rename it Giggs Fitness, talk at length about “strength” and “conditioning”, instead of “inner strength” and “peace” then simply package that mindset into a DVD ready in time for Christmas 2011.

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Maria Sharapova: hot yoga

Sure, she failed a drugs test and sure, she’s paying the price now, but there’s no questioning the tennis player’s agility. It’s something that can be put down (in part) to her love of hot yoga – yoga done in hot and humid conditions. She has been a fan since she was 15 and credits her between-point calmness with the breathing exercises (she even filmed a session in tandem with her sponsor, Nike).

Hope Solo: dynamic yoga

Yoga saved US women’s goalkeeper Hope Solo’s life. In 2012, the US soccer team were staying in a Vancouver when a gunman broke into their hotel. Thankfully the team, including Solo, were busy in the basement finishing up a dynamic yoga class: “Was about to walk to Starbucks when all hell broke loose in the lobby of our hotel! Life is precious,” she tweeted. Solo prefers dynamic yoga, another word for flow, a faster-paced form where classes move seamlessly between poses.

Joe Hart: Iyengar yoga

Proof that the marriage between goalkeepers and yoga is a happy one, Hart practises Iyengar, which focuses on alignment, improving your posture post-injury rehabilitation rather than, say, conditioning and elongating muscles (perfect for goalkeeping). Jennifer Aniston swears by it, Nigella Lawson toned up doing it and, well, Hart singularly failed to stop shots from Gareth Bale and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson while practising it. He should probably try Giggs’s version.

The Welsh rugby union team: team hot yoga

“Fight fire with fire,” said none of the Welsh rugby team after discovering the New Zealand team practised hot yoga. Still they thought they’d give it a whirl and hot yoga became a pre-match routine for some players during the World Cup in September 2011. It was a good idea in practice – Wales narrowly lost in the semis; New Zealand won the tournament.

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The Welsh rugby squad: ‘Look, guys, it’s a choice between Giggs Fitness or hot yoga.’
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